As part our forthcoming Forbes Europe 30 Under 30 Finance interview series, ARYZE spoke with Anna-Sophie Hartvigsen of Female Invest, the Danish investment community dedicated to closing the gender investment gap. We discussed how the company was founded, why the gender investment gap matters, and how the company is working to eradicate it.
As Anna-Sophie Hartvigsen says,
The current overrepresentation of men in the financial industry is reflected in every aspect of it.
Her company, Female Invest, exists to change that reality. Female Invest is Northern Europe’s largest platform educating women on investing and personal finance. Through webinars, events, and their informative blog, FemaleInvest has created a community and platform centered around communicating investment information tailored to women and their needs. The three founders, Anna-Sophie Hartvigsen, Emma Due Bitz and Camilla Falkenberg, have just been recognized on Forbes Europe’s 30 Under 30 list in the Finance category for the important work they are doing to close the gender investment gap.
When Anna-Sophie Hartvigsen began to invest her money at 19, she had no friends or family to ask for help, as no one she knew had invested themselves. After conducting her own research and making some initial investments, her returns were considerable enough to deepen her fascination with the investments industry, spurring her to spend increasing time learning and investing. Despite enjoying this newfound interest, Hartvigsen had no one to share it with:
Even though it was a lot of fun, there was one big minus: None of my female friends invested and everytime I tried to join clubs or events about investing, I was the only young girl. It made me feel lonely with my hobby, and I was uncomfortable always being the odd one out.
So, Hartvigsen began to research on the topic, which led her to discover that women are underrepresented on financial markets worldwide. This gender investment gap further enforces the pay gap already deeply affecting women worldwide. Soon after this revelation, Hartvigsen was approached by Emma Due Bitz, who had heard of her interest in investing. Since the age of twenty, Bitz had worked as a stock broker, and as the only woman on the trading floor, she was keen to start a group to unite women interested in investing. Joined by Camilla Falkenberg, the three women founded Female Invest in 2017, which has since grown from a small community into an international movement of over 25,000 women.
The trio started by simply creating a Facebook page, which quickly revealed the demand for a community like the one they were building. Says Hartvigsen:
We initially expected 10-20 women to join, but within the first month we were contacted by thousands of women and hit national media. It turned out the demand was much bigger than anyone could have anticipated.
Now, as Northern Europe’s biggest educational investment platform for women, they recognize how transformative it could be to include women in the investment industry, both as employees and investors. Hartvigsen believes that employing more women in the financial industry would facilitate the development of products and communications targeted at women, ultimately leading more women to invest their money. And when women do invest, they do well. Women tend to trade more conservatively than men, leading to increased long-term growth:
In general, women tend to be more risk averse and trade less frequently. As a result, they (on average) perform better during economic downturn and make less profits during economic booms. Putting everything together, female investors tend to outperform male investors, when looking at their average returns.
For women looking to begin investing their money, Hartvigsen asserts that some consideration is all that is necessary to get started:
You first have to consider your time horizon, risk profile and how much money you can afford to invest – we can help you do that. Thereafter, you can always start slow with buying a fund or an ETF (exchange-traded fund) – which we can also help you do. Once you make your first investment, you will realize that it is not as difficult as you thought it would be. In general, the biggest mistake you can make is to never get started.
When asked whether being a team of young women is a help or hindrance to achieving their goals for Female Invest, Hartvigsen says:
We usually just reply: “Yes”. On one side, it is an advantage because we are noticed easily. On the other hand, we struggled to be taken seriously in the beginning of our journey. However, that has changed as we have grown and proven ourselves.
Recently, their young age has provided one distinct advantage: the Female Invest founding trio have just been listed on the prestigious Forbes Europe’s 30 Under 30 list for finance. Armed with such public accolades, an important mission and a growing community, they are well on their way to achieving their next goal: expanding throughout Europe.
For more information about Female Invest, please visit their website, or follow them on LinkedIn. To learn more about diversity, finance, and minimizing financial exclusion, please visit ARYZE’s blog.