Feature: Modern Indian women excelling in stock market – Xinhua

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NEW DELHI, July 30 (Xinhua) — Many Indian women including homemakers have increasingly entered the stock market, often considered the domain of men in India.

“The need for financial independence, the potential to make quick money and possibilities of creating wealth in the long run are larger reasons why women are becoming besotted with stock markets,” said Delhi-based stock broker Ranjit Rajan.

In the deeply patriarchal society of India, women are specialized towards taking care of the household, with the men earning livelihood and taking all decisions.

But it seems that times are changing. While the current ratio of men to women in the equities market stands at 76 to 24 as per official data, more and more women are giving male opponents a tough competition there.

Research also supports that women are more suited for the stock market. An independent research by Berkeley University professors Brad M. Barber and Terrance Odean, titled “Boys will be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence and Common Stock Investment,” found women were smarter towards investments in stocks and did not go by overconfidence thereby avoiding risks and losses.

“It is assumed that men are smarter when it comes to financial matters. But women are natural money savers and with time, my women clients have become very vocal about their investment preferences. The younger ones are often even fearless while women in their late 40s and above often like to play safe,” said Manek Shah, another stock broker.

“Nonetheless, it is more exciting to work with them because they have more earning potential and more influence over financial decisions than ever before; they aren’t overconfident either and avoid mistakes that men usually fall for,” he added.

This new workforce in the stock market comes from all walks of lives. Mostly an urban trend, female investors are both working professionals as well as stay-at-home mothers who are talented and multi-task but are raring to be independent and diminish the myth that they can not be serious financial planners.

As per trend, women usually start by investing in large-cap stocks and later move to mid and small-cap stocks.

“I had to give up my full-time job after the birth of my daughter. After nursing her for six months, I was desperate to be independent again. That is when I started following the stock market. I began by buying safe stocks,” said Richa Sharma, a 36-year-old homemaker based in Gurgaon, a wealthy suburb of Delhi.

“Women are the pillar of the family but they need to look after themselves as well. After my children grew up and went their own ways, I started investing in stock market to support myself and save for my twilight years. It takes time and discipline and now after eight years, I have safe and good money through investing in stocks,” said 68-year-old Savita Menon, a retired Delhi University professor.

Investing in the stock market is also becoming popular with the new-age couples, which is against the earlier trend where men resisted involving their partners either as planners or independent investors. This added to the hesitation of women to take control of their finances.

The case remains true for most working or well-educated women who rely on their fathers or husbands to manage their money.

“A bit of counselling towards trading puts in confidence among women to take a leap of faith. A lot of our clients are modern couples who take stock market counselling together. Women take time to understand it, but once they experience the market and gain confidence with their small steps, they become masters of the trade,” said Sneha Singh, chief financial coach with a Delhi-based consultancy agency.

“In my experience, women have entered the stock market with both short-term and long-term plans, but with their patience, they have fared very well,” Singh said.

Technology has also made trading convenient for couples. All it takes now is to open an account online, hire a broker through internet and trade while sitting at home.

“It is said that gender stereotypes are fast being broken in India. Glass ceilings are being shattered both in home and at workplaces, where women are taking lead roles and matching the steps with men. The stock market is clearly becoming the place where the myths that women and money do not go together is being debunked and cultural pressures in ‘men-exclusive’ domains shrugged off,” said behavioral scientist N.K. Dubey.