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How intentional investing can help women succeed

The pandemic and its economic impact gave us all good reasons to put off investing.

This is especially true for women who were hit harder in the “she-cession” and the retreat from the labor market. In the wake of Covid-19, one in four women said they were considering reducing their work hours, moving to part-time, taking a leave of absence, or simply dropping out of the workforce altogether, according to a study published by McKinsey & Co. and Lean In.1 

Add to that the difficulty of simply managing life through these challenging times and the recent volatility in the stock market, and it’s not surprising that many women put investing on the back burner. 

But getting back to investing is one of the smartest financial moves a woman can make. Historically, investing has been shown to be a powerful tool to building wealth over time. And doing it as early and consistently as possible can make a difference in how much money a woman can accumulate. 

With intentional investing, you choose companies that align with your values and beliefs and will provide a good return on your investment.  As a woman, you have the choice to select companies that will not only help you reach your financial goals, but that are good for other women and society as well. 

There are basically three components to this type of investing:  

  • Being intentional about why you’re investing (goals) 
  • Deciding what you’re investing in (the impact on the world) 
  • Choosing who you’re investing with (on your own or with a financial professional)  

Getting started

Determining your financial goals is the first part of any intentional investing strategy. This can be buying a home, starting a business, planning for a family, or simply saving for retirement. The point is to start with an idea of where you want your investing dollars to take you. 

If the goal is saving for a house, the investing vehicle will need to be safe and liquid—meaning that you can access it at any time without penalty. Examples include high-yield savings or money market accounts. Yes, the savings rates are lower than the stock market, but these types of accounts will still earn more than the national average annual percentage yields on basic savings and interest-bearing checking accounts.2 The same guidelines would apply for funds set aside for starting a business or planning for a family. 

Investing for retirement will involve a different agenda because that money will typically have a longer time horizon. Investments in stocks through a mutual fund or ETF will allow you greater potential returns since you’re allowing that money to compound over a longer period of time. 

Investing in your beliefs

One of the basic tenets of impact investing is finding companies that align with your beliefs and values. While every company is different, you can find those that focus on benefitting women, the environment, or whatever issues matters most to you. There does not have to be a trade-off between your values and performance. For example, there are mutual funds that take into account whether a company does business with women- or minority-owned firms. Look for funds that include companies with diverse leadership or those that do not include companies that violate child-labor laws or invest in tobacco companies.  Think ahead to what your objectives are and what you’re trying to achieve when looking at gender-focused funds.

DIY or financial professional?

Lastly, intentional investing means understanding if this is something a woman wants to do on her own or with help. Online services, such as robo-advisors, can help women build and maintain an investment portfolio and cost much less than working with an actual financial professional. Other services can help you find investments that align with your financial and issue-oriented goals. There are mutual funds and ETFs that seek to provide exposure to U.S. companies that demonstrate greater gender diversity within senior leadership than other firms in their sector.  

For a woman who wants more hands-on help in designing an investment portfolio or has a more complex financial life, it may make sense to work with a financial professional. And working with a female financial professional has several benefits. Investing can initially be intimidating, and working with someone who understands your worldview may help you gain the confidence you need to stay in the market even when times are rocky. Using a female financial professional also helps continue to populate an industry that has, traditionally, been male-dominated. 

Whatever path a woman chooses for her investments, the most important element is consistency. Building wealth takes time and by staying invested in the market—even through turbulent times—women increase the chances of accumulating the money they need for whatever their financial goals. Impact investing allows a woman to achieve these goals while knowing that the investments she’s making are helping to make a positive impact on the world.

1 Women in the Workplace. McKinsey & Co. 2020

2 National Rates and Rate Caps. FDIC. January 18, 2022.

This material is provided for general and educational purposes only; it is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice. All investments are subject to risk. Please consult an independent legal or financial advisor for specific advice about your individual situation.