Best Banks for Women? Examining the Banking Industry on International Women’s Day
We ladies have it rough when it comes to money. It may be 2013, but we still earn less than men. We also live longer — a plus, for sure — but it means we also have to save for an average six extra years of retirement. We also often run the household finances, acting as family CFO, but have a harder time gaining the information and resources we need to improve our financial literacy.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the banking industry recognized these facts and helped us out a little? Well, it turns out, some banks are actually doing just that.
Women and the Global Banking Industry
The United States may be considered a global superpower in terms of our economy, but we’re not the only ones who put women’s needs at the forefront of new developments in banking.
India has been capturing headlines recently as its government announced plans to build a new bank tailored specifically to serve women and address gender imbalances in the country. According to the Huffington Post, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is planning to contribute 10 billion rupees — the equivalent of $186 million U.S. dollars — to fund the new bank that will not only be focused on lending to women, but will be managed and staffed by them as well.
The HuffPo article also mentions similar, already existing women-only banks in countries such as Pakistan, which launched theirs in 1989, as well as in East Africa’s Tanzania where a similar institution opened in 2009.
Best Banks for Women
So what about here at home? There are actually quite a few financial institutions leading the way in providing women-focused financial services as well.
For instance, located in the Northeastern U.S., Sovereign Bank has made it clear they support the unique financial needs of women-owned businesses by establishing the Specialty Banking Group. According to the bank’s website, this division is dedicated to thoroughly analyzing the business plans, competition and objectives of clients, helping these women-owned businesses develop long-term financial strategies to meet their goals.
Sovereign also supports women’s business organizations, sponsoring those that help advance women in business, such as the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts, the Center for Women & Enterprise and the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus.
Central Bank of Kansas City
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency manages a directory of minority-owned financial institutions, including women-owned banks, as well as resources for learning more about these institutions that are often more sensitive to the specialized needs of the communities they serve.
In fact, one of the OCC’s recommended resources is MinorityBank.com, which published a listing by Creative Investment Research, Inc. of the top five women- and minority-owned financial institutions, naming the Central Bank of Kansas City as the best bank for women.
According to MinorityBank.com, the top five listing was compiled “using 2009 financial, demographic, HMDA and CRA information from a database maintained by Creative Investment Research.” The list was ultimately based on “social needs in the area the financial institution serves; responsiveness of the financial institution in meeting those social needs; and financial performance of the institution.”
The Central Bank of Kansas City was chartered in 1950 and is located in Kansas City, Missouri.
Citibank also stands out as a bank that recognizes the importance of women’s needs in banking. Citi developed Women & Co. to encourage dialogue around women and money, and provide resources for women-specific financial issues. Essentially a women’s personal finance blog, Women & Co. has been around for over a decade, curating timely and objective financial information and news as it relates to women specifically.
When it comes to financial issues, it may be more difficult for women to get the assistance they need — but that’s not to say it doesn’t exist. Like every other challenge women face, it’s up to us to seek out help, take advantage of the resources that exist and empower ourselves to take full control of our financial lives.