Ms Renuka Shastri, a 43-year-old housewife, has not visited her broker in the last six months. Her shares lie idle and her investment approach has become more conservative.

“I used to sit at my broker’s office for two hours everyday. But now the markets have become so unpredictable that I don’t trade any more,” said Ms Shastri.

Ms Shastri is not alone. According to brokerages, many women investors, who burnt their fingers, have turned more cautious now.

Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services had a ‘women only’ branch in Vile Parle, Mumbai, which merged with the main branch last year. “There was low activity at that branch. I think cost-cutting issues and less participation were reasons why the branch was merged,” said a client who used to trade through that branch.

Women investors are opting for Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs) and Gold Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) due to the low risk associated with them.

“Women are mostly long-term investors. They rarely go for speculative trading. We have seen more women opting for SIPs and Gold ETFs due to the low risk associated with them,” said Ms Vijayashree S. Kaimal, Branch Manager- Kochi, Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services, a ‘women only’ branch.

Lamented a sub-broker in Chennai: “Earlier, every week we used to have a special training session especially for housewives on how to trade. But we have not conducted any such session in the last three months due to lack of interest shown by them.”

Mr B. Gopkumar, Executive Vice-President, Kotak Securities, said: “We have seen increased interest in gold ETF and auto-invest monthly equity SIP products. Auto-invest gives investors an option to systematically invest in equities as well as gold ETF.”

As far as equity trading is concerned, Ms Kaimal said, “About 50 per cent of women investors are dormant. Due to the current market condition, account opening has also come down.”

At present, the branch has 800 clients and the volume traded is about 30 per cent lower than the average volumes traded.

The drop in cash market volumes sharply impacted the overall equity brokerage revenue pool, said ICRA in its latest study.

A survey on ‘Understanding the Female Economy’ by Barclays Wealth shows “that female investors are less likely to try to strategically time the market — with 36 per cent of woman adopting this approach, whilst 41 per cent of men favour it.”

Special packages

Meanwhile, brokerages are introducing special ‘women-friendly’ packages to boost trading. For instance, on Women’s Day, Kotak Securities introduced a special scheme for women for two weeks where they could open their trading account free of cost. There was also a special gift for woman who opened accounts then.

“This scheme worked very well for us. We will continue to keep our focus here simply because women have a more balanced approach, which make them ideal candidates to make money from investments, be it equities, mutual funds or any other asset class,” said Mr Gopkumar.

priya.s@thehindu.co.in

badri@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 15, 2012)
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