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“ONLY 47% of female Indian earners in metros make independent financial decisions”


In a pioneering effort to understand how urban Indian women plan, prioritise and manage their money, DBS Bank India, in partnership with CRISIL, has undertaken a comprehensive study entitled ‘Women and Finance’. The first of three reports, based on the survey designed to reveal the financial preferences of salaried and self-employed women across various life stages. Over 800 women were surveyed across 10 cities in India on a wide range of behaviours, including their involvement in financial decision-making, goal setting, saving and investing patterns, adoption of digital tools, as well as their preferences for different banking products.

The survey findings pointed to factors like age, income, marital status, presence of dependants and home location as significant influencers of women’s financial behaviour.

Decision-making dynamics and evolution of goals

Whether it’s charting their children’s educational paths or balancing multiple competing financial goals, women are not bystanders but are at the helm, shaping the future of their families. An encouraging 98% of salaried and self-employed Indian women actively participate in long-term family decision-making. The findings revealed that about 47 per cent of them make independent financial decisions, reflecting women’s growing financial autonomy. Age and affluence play a pivotal role in shaping these decisions. Women over 45, with their wealth of experience, emerge as the leaders, with 65% making independent financial choices compared to 41% of those aged 25-35.

The report provides a fascinating glimpse into the growing empowerment of earning metropolitan women. Across India, a woman’s primary long-term financial priority evolves with age. Buying/upgrading a home is priority number one for those between 25-35 years, while it evolves to children’s education for those in the 35–45-year category and to medical care for those above 45 years of age. Expectedly, retirement planning is seen entering the consideration set for the first time in the 35–45-year age cohort.

Prashant Joshi, Managing Director and Head of the Consumer Banking Group at DBS Bank India said, “The insights from the survey highlight the importance of financial stability in the aspirations of independent female earners across India. Ownership of financial decision-making, diverse investment and borrowing choices and growing adoption of digital channels are all evidence that the modern Indian woman is a participant and a planner of her journey.”

Saving, borrowing and investment behaviour

The presence of dependents understandably plays a significant role in women’s investment behaviour. Specifically, 43% of married women with dependents conservatively allocate 10-29% of their income to investing, while in contrast, a quarter of married women without dependents choose to invest over half of their income.

Regional variations lend greater depth to the insights-Hyderabad and Mumbai lead the way in credit card usage, with 96% of Mumbai relying on credit cards, while only 63% of women in Kolkata use them. More significantly, the report revealed that half of the salaried women said they had never taken a loan. Among those who borrowed, most opted for a home loan, reflecting the profound cultural importance associated with homeownership in India.

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