Managing Founder, Wahine Capital Sdn Bhd

This article was featured in StarBiz on 27 January 2024.

Unleashing the power of the purse

"We are proud to feature a recent article where Rejina Rahim, our esteemed managing founder, lends her expert insight on the rising tide of female financial empowerment. Her voice stands out as a guiding force, offering a compelling examination of women's growing control over household finances and their emerging influence in shaping the financial landscape. This piece not only highlights her thought leadership in the industry but also reflects our company's commitment to fostering financial literacy and independence among women. We invite you to read the full article to explore the diverse perspectives, including the influential contributions from Rejina Rahim."

In the dynamic landscape of finance, a powerful force that has been gaining momentum in the Western developed economies is the rise of female financial empowerment.

Globally, women control over US$31.8 trillion (RM146.5 trillion) in household spending. As we navigate the complex world of investments, savings and wealth creation, it becomes increasingly evident that women play a pivotal role in shaping the future of finance.

In this introductory column, I would like to take readers on a journey to explore the untapped potential and extraordinary possibilities within the realm of women's financial empowerment and see if the growing awareness is simply a Western theoretical trend or something we might actually benefit from in Malaysia.

The financial sector has traditionally been a predominantly male narrative, both in Malaysia and elsewhere. However, times are changing and women are stepping to the forefront, not only as decision-makers but also as architects of their financial destinies.

I started Wahine Capital after leaving corporate employment in late 2021 as I recognized the immense value that women bring to the table. My mission is clear - to empower women to become financially independent and thrive in a male-dominated industry.

Many people have asked me why I focus specifically on women and female financial empowerment. The answer lies in the undeniable influence women wield over household finances, consumer spending and the broader economy. From making daily purchasing decisions to steering long-term investment strategies for the family, women are key players in financial ecosystems.

Here are some Malaysia-centric facts:

  • Women have almost one-third less EPF retirement savings by the age of 54, according to the EPF Annual Report 2022.
  • At the managerial level the pay gap between men and women for top 200 public-listed companies can be as high as 20%.
  • Of the RM1.08 trillion total deposits in 2022 RM 496 billion was held by women
  • We lead the region with more than 30% female representation on our top 100 public-listed companies, easily ahead of Singapore.
  • Women account for about 20% of entrepreneurs in small and medium enterprises.

Women are at risk of losing 50% or more of their assets or income due to problems like divorce,death,critical illness and retirement. Could it be because our Asian culture dictates that money is not a woman's domain?

Women in Malaysia outlive their male counterparts by five years on average, according to Department of Statistics Malaysia data.

Divorce cases in Malaysia have increased by 80% in the last 10 years. This demonstrates the need for a business case highlighting the massive potential of female purchasing power.

It's simple - there are not enough women representing us on our choices and needs at the investment, corporate and board levels. Let's also not even mention the political arena!

Even the progress in artificial intelligence (AI) is based predominantly on white male data, thus reinforcing gender biases for the future.

I find it interesting that trying to convince women to take charge of their finances is a lot harder than trying to sell clothes and beauty products. It clearly shows we are not teaching our young ones properly about financial literacy.

How do we move forward in a world where volatility and change is more common than stability?

This year, 70 countries will be having elections with Taiwan doing the opening and Indonesia on Feb 14. The performance of the ringgit is reminiscent of the Asian financial crisis in 1998, but at that time local geo-political risks were not a real issue.

I might not have all the answers but I do know that knowledge empowers and this is the aim of the column to delve,discuss and ponder the multifaceted aspects of financial empowerment from investment education to overcoming gender-specific financial challenges.

I am looking at creating a movement that aims to break down barriers,challenge stereotypes and create an inclusive space where women can confidently stand alongside their male counterparts and talk about money confidently.

It's time to celebrate the strength, resilience and intelligence that women bring to the economy. Together,we will unravel the possibilities,confront challenges and champion a future where every woman is not just financially independent but a driving force in shaping a more equitable and prosperous world.

Stay tuned for an empowering series that will redefine the way we perceive and engage women's financial empowerment.