With nearly four decades of experience in investment banking — from equity fundraising to public company takeovers — Tracey Woon knows a lot about managing money. She spends most of her day advising high-net-worth clients and entrepreneurs on growing their wealth, but she knew she could and wanted to do more, in particular for other women. When women are empowered and included, this mother-of-three reasoned, society and, ultimately, the world benefits from it. As part of the UBS Women Initiative she spearheads, Woon and her team also masterminded We — The Words of Women Empowered in November, a coffee-table tome of inspiring stories from 28 female business leaders in Southeast Asia.
She wants to help women become more financially aware, confident and independent
“Women are living longer than men, and the possibility of being alone (divorced or widowed) as we age is something very real. Hence, we must learn to take charge of our long-term financial well-being. That’s why I am very passionate about driving our UBS Women Initiative in the Asia Pacific.”
“Before that, banks didn’t differentiate between men and women clients. Women represent nearly half the world’s population, and we seek a different dialogue from men. Women are driven by a sense of purpose — we are much more focused on investing to achieve positive societal change grounded in the right values. We also gleaned important insights from our reports such as Own Your Worth (2019) that allow us to better understand and help women make the most of their wealth.”
Nearly eight in 10 widows and divorcees wished they had been more involved in long-term financial decisions while they were married
“For Own Your Worth, we spoke with 3,700 women — married, widowed and divorced — in Singapore, Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, the UK and US. Although 85 percent are highly involved in short-term finances like managing day-to-day expenses, 58 percent allow their spouse to handle long-term finances such as investments, pensions and insurance. Out of nine countries surveyed, Singapore ranks the highest for the latter at 72 percent!”
“Surprisingly, millennial women are also perpetuating the status quo. I believe it’s partly historical and cultural; the attitudes reflected over generations are often deep-seated. And to effect change, we need to raise awareness. As you become more aware, you feel more confident. You start making better financial decisions and become more independent. As you become happier, you can begin to make a difference. So owning our wealth, finding our voice and setting a good example for the younger generation through increased financial literacy should be our goal.”
For women, wealth comes with a responsibility to drive change and make the world a better place
“The number of female billionaires has grown by almost 46 percent in the last five years from 160 to 233. They are redefining legacy to involve a sense of integrity and positive impact. Already, we are seeing the substantial difference just a small number of committed Athena billionaire philanthropists can make. That’s why I want to help women build sustainable wealth.”
Giving back makes her a better banker
“Like wealth, knowledge comes with a certain responsibility. Empowering other women is a cause close to my heart, and I want to share as much of my knowledge with them. Giving back reminds me about the importance of life and relationships. It helps me to appreciate and be grateful and content for what I have. And I am a better banker because of this.”
This story is part of a series on Singapore’s modern visionaries. To read others in the series, click here.
This story first appeared in the January/February issue of A Magazine.