Japan’s female investors seek diverse portfolios | 2019-01-21

Japan’s female investors seek diverse portfolios

21 January, 2019 12:00 AM printer

TOKYO: For years, retail currency investors were known as “Mrs. Watanabes,” a reference to the metaphorical housewife who invests family savings mostly in foreign exchange. Now, a younger generation of women is looking at a wider asset range in which to park investments.

Like their elders, kinyū joshi (finance girls), who are largely in their 20s and 30s, face a challenging investment landscape with bank deposits offering minimal, near-zero returns.

Unlike their senior counterparts, however, younger female investors tend to be more frugal and averse to overexposure to any one single asset class. For this reason, many of them are tapping a broader asset universe using mobile-based services to keep costs low, report agencies.

While younger female investors account for a much smaller chunk of Japan’s investment base than their seniors do, their increasing appetite for yield represents a significant mobilization of personal capital into global financial markets.

“All my savings were in cash, but I thought that’s really scary,” said Haruka Hirokawa, 32, who works at a call center for a domestic life insurer. “I thought it’ll be necessary to diversify my investments globally from now on.”

Hirokawa, who has invested about ¥130,000 so far, has put her money into eight trusts, including international equity and multi-asset funds by investing ¥100 per trading day into each trust, for a total of ¥16,000 a month. She constructed her portfolio after meeting like-minded investors through a women’s community that meets regularly to discuss financial matters.

Japan’s senior Watanabes were best known for bets on speculative assets with volatile risk-reward ratios, specifically through foreign exchange margin trading.

That generation became big players in currency trading in the past decade as they sought to beat meager returns through tactics such as the famous carry-trade.

However, the Turkish lira’s sell off in August and its slump against the yen this year forced many to abandon the high-yielding Middle Eastern unit, previously a popular choice for retail investors, and reassess their risk exposure.