MENU

The legacy of language in the finance sector

Have you ever thought about the type of language that’s used in the finance sector? Without having to think too hard it’s easy to come up with a number of some traditionally masculine examples, such as “building” a portfolio, the ASX “fighting” its way upward, watching a share or stock market “tank”, then there’s dawn raids, Death Star IPOs, Samurai bonds, scalping, whipsaws and kill orders, to name a few.

A study published by Tilburg University in the Netherlands in 2015 found that the language and metaphors in investor communication come from the same source domains which include war and combat, heavy physical activity and building and construction.

Now, this is definitely not to say that men like war, or that women don’t like sports and physical activity. Masculine language in finance is a product of legacy. It wasn’t so long ago that women worked only if they were not married. In the past, it was sons, not daughters that inherited a family’s wealth. In fact, if you go back to Jane Austen’s time, the only investment decision made by upper-class women was in choosing a wealthy bachelor to marry. It’s not so strange then that finance, a typically masculine sector, would use some typically masculine language.

The Dutch study also found that this kind of language works to exclude, rather than include women investors. It is a fact that women participate less in the stock market than men, and if they do, they generally take less risk. This gender gap in financial decision-making is often explained due to differences in risk tolerance and financial literacy, but the gap can also increasingly be attributed to the degree to which men and women identify with the language used in the finance sector. While masculine financial language works to exclude women, the study also suggested it creates feelings of familiarity and belonging among men.

Language and the way products are marketed are important drivers of inclusion and exclusion. A good example of this was the changes in marketing tack by both PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ: PEP) and The Coca-Cola Co (NYSE: KO) in the way they marketed their diet soft drink products in the 1990s and 2000s. Marketers found that amongst male consumers, the word “diet” evoked images of the world of women and brought to mind the idea of fitting clothes and spending time in front of a mirror, so Pepsi Max and Coke Zero were born.

Due to increased female labour market participation and changes in socio-demographics, women as much as men are involved in taking care of their finances. So, could there be a time in the future where we knit or weave our portfolios rather than build them? Or perhaps a more gender-neutral financial language will emerge. Only time will tell.

Top 3 ASX Blue Chips To Buy In 2018

For many, blue chip stocks mean stability, profitability and regular dividends, often fully franked..

But knowing which blue chips to buy, and when, can be fraught with danger.

The Motley Fool’s in-house analyst team has poured over thousands of hours worth of proprietary research to bring you the names of "The Motley Fool’s Top 3 Blue Chip Stocks for 2018."

Each one pays a fully franked dividend. Each one has not only grown its profits, but has also grown its dividend. One increased it by a whopping 33%, while another trades on a grossed up (fully franked) dividend yield of almost 7%.

The names of these Top 3 ASX Blue Chips are included in this specially prepared free report. But you will have to hurry. Depending on demand – and how quickly the share prices of these companies moves – we may be forced to remove this report.

Click here to claim your free report.

Motley Fool contributor Bronwyn Bruce has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

Two New Stock Picks Every Month!

Not to alarm you, but you’re about to miss a very important event! Chief Investment Advisor Scott Phillips and his team at Motley Fool Share Advisor are about to reveal their latest official stock recommendation. The premium “buy alert” will be unveiled to members and you can be among the first to act on the tip.

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by – this is your chance to get in early!

Simply enter your email now to find out how you can get instant access.

By clicking this button, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. We will use your email address only to keep you informed about updates to our website and about other products and services we think might interest you. You can unsubscribe from Take Stock at anytime. Please refer to our Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information.