According to latest news, there’s a multi-billion-dollar, maybe even trillion-dollar, opportunity brewing in the wealth management industry, especially in Asia, and it all comes back to women entrepreneurs. New research released by HSBC Private Bank last week asserts that women entrepreneurs in Asia are more likely to become successful, compared to their Western counterparts. The research also found that self-made women in Asia start businesses on average five years earlier — when they’re 29, instead of in their mid-thirties.
HSBC surveyed more than 2,800 global business owners worth more than $1 million in August and September of this year. Nick Levitt, head of the Global Solutions Group at HSBC Private Bank, said in an interview that the bank is already using the data to build programs that better support entrepreneurs with the challenges that they face, including a lack of liquidity, since the net worth is often tied to startups. “The client base is changing quite rapidly. What’s exciting about this is that everything is up for grabs,” he says. “This will certainly influence our strategy.” He adds that the wealth management industry has historically had “a greater bias towards male engagement” and that HSBC is trying to break that stereotype.
The research found that two in five entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China, or about 40%, are female with nearly half under the age of 35. In Hong Kong, the numbers are split nearly even, with women entrepreneurs making up 48%, the highest rate of a region surveyed. In Western countries surveyed, women accounted for 31% of entrepreneurs. The lowest percentage was in Germany, where just 21% of business owners were women. More conclusions will be released in 2016 with the full report.
But why — if women are in fact more likely to become entrepreneurs in Asia — are there still so few self-made female billionaires on FORBES’ World Billionaires list? Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia still have no known self-made women gracing the list. In India, there’s one. In Hong Kong, there are two. In mainland China, there are 10. It’s not by any means limited to Asian countries. The U.S. has 18 known self-made female billionaires who built their own fortunes and the U.K. has one, France, Germany and Switzerland also don’t have any. (These numbers exclude women who built large companies and 10-figure fortunes alongside their husbands.)
Levitt, though, thinks that’s going to change very soon, at least in some Asian countries. “The question is what the pace of that change is. One of the great things about the survey is that it shows that it’s probably significantly faster than we previously anticipated,” Levitt says. Even though the billionaire ranks may be one of the toughest glass ceilings for women to break through, the HSBC data does show an encouraging statistic for Asian women: 51% of Asian entrepreneurs with a net worth of more than $15 million are female, compared to 33% in the West.