Goldman Sachs recently held its third annual Women & Wealth Forum, a gathering of female investors, business owners and entrepreneurs. We sat down with Goldman Sachs’ Natasha Pope, a private wealth advisor who spearheaded the launch of the forum in London — the first in a series of Women’s Forums that are being held in 10 cities across the globe this year — and shared takeaways from the event.
Natasha, can you explain the catalyst behind this event?
Natasha Pope: We decided to launch the Women & Wealth Forum three years ago given the growing influence of female investors and our own efforts to be more targeted in our engagement with clients. At this year’s forum, we wanted to convene female leaders in their respective fields — heads of family offices, private equity investors and entrepreneurs — to talk about their ideas and passions, and to share technical content. There was a lot of discussion, for example, of women supporting women. In one of the panels I moderated about women and film, there was a lively discussion about developing a syndicate with other female investors to invest in films that were produced or directed by women, or had a predominantly female cast.
Why is the private wealth management industry, including Goldman Sachs, focused on this population?
NP: In recent years, industry research has documented the rise of the female wallet and the next generation of female investors who are likely to control — and fill — that wallet. Several years ago, we were part of a study by the Center for Talent Innovation that resulted in the research, Harnessing the Power of the Purse. Some of the stats from that study — which found that women in the US controlled 39% of investable assets — forced us to think more strategically on the issues. It’s critical for our business to demonstrate this priority in front of both male and female clients. Not only are women accumulating wealth at a faster rate than men, thanks to longevity, but they’re also starting and controlling more businesses. For example, we estimate that the combined net wealth of the 130 women who attended our Forum was about $45 billion this year.
Can you talk about the efforts behind Launch With GS, the firm’s commitment to invest $500 million in women-led companies and investment managers? It was also announced today that the program will expand to include businesses led by people of color.
NP: The response has been incredible. Since the announcement of our program last year, we’ve received more than 3,000 requests from more than 1,000 women entrepreneurs and investment managers in over 50 countries. And so far, we’ve invested $100 million across companies that are transforming healthcare, revolutionizing entertainment and democratizing big data — including businesses such as Second Measure, which is helping investors digest spending and consumer data to provide actionable insights. We are currently raising capital to invest in a portfolio of women-centered private equity managers and venture capital funds, and we’re also fostering an ecosystem for women to network, share ideas and find opportunities. And our announcement to expand the program to businesses led by people of color is an exciting development that builds on the thesis that investing in diverse teams — diversity of gender, thought, and background — leads to outperformance and will drive growth for our clients and shareholders.
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