50% Salaried Women Have Never Taken Loan: Study

47% of female Indian earners in metros take independent financial decisions: DBS Bank India and CRISIL survey

Prashant Joshi, MD and Head, Consumer Banking Group, DBS Bank India

FinTech BizNews Service

Mumbai, January 15, 2024: In a pioneering effort to understand the way urban Indian women plan, prioritise and manage their money, DBS Bank India, in partnership with CRISIL, have undertaken a comprehensive study entitled ‘Women and Finance’. The first of three reports was launched today, based on the survey that was designed to reveal the financial preferences of women, both salaried and self-employed, 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.

In the context of the stagnating rate of female participation in the workforce and a persistent gender pay gap, the insights from this study are pertinent for businesses, regulators and financial institutions as well as a revelation when it comes to understanding the variations of Indian women’s relationship with their finances. The survey findings pointed to factors like age, income, marital status, presence of dependants and home location as major influencers of the financial behaviour of women.

Decision making dynamics and evolution of goals

Whether it's charting out 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. In fact, the findings revealed that about 47% of them make independent financial decisions, a reflection of women’s growing financial autonomy. Age and affluence play a pivotal role in shaping these decisions. Women over 45 years old, with their wealth of experience, emerge as the leaders, with 65% making independent financial choices compared to 41% of those aged 25-35 years.

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 Consumer Banking Group, 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 not just a participant, but a planner of her journey. More than 35% of our own DBS Treasures customer base are female and we have seen many inspiring examples of how women can take charge of their own finances. The DBS Women and Finance study is a step forward in the much-needed movement to a more equitable financial playing field and it underlines our commitment to enabling all customers to ‘Live more, Bank less’.”

Saving, borrowing and investment behaviour

Women earners in the metros tend to be risk-averse with 51% of their investments parked in fixed deposits (FD) and savings accounts, followed by 16% in gold, 15% in mutual funds, 10% in real estate and just 7% in stocks. This tracks with behaviours from DBS Bank India’s own customer insights where 10% of female customers have an active fixed deposit, while just 5% of male customers have opened an FD.

The presence of dependents understandably plays a major 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. For example, Hyderabad and Mumbai lead the way in credit card usage, with 96% of women in 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 stated that they have never taken a loan. Among those who have borrowed, the majority opted for a home loan, which reflects the deep cultural importance associated with homeownership in India.

The study also deep dived into women’s usage of different banking and payment channels. 33% of those in the 25-35 age bracket prefer to use UPI for online shopping, while only 22% above 45 years use UPI. This finding aligns with the customer profile of digibank by DBS, the mobile-first, digital bank where more than 78% of the female user base is below 40 years of age. The report showed that UPI stands out as the preferred choice for urban women for a variety of payment needs: money transfers (38%), utility bills (34%) and e-commerce purchases (29%), signalling decreasing dependency on cash. Although regional nuances were stark in some cases with only 2% of women in Delhi opting for cash payments, while 43% of women from Kolkata favoured this option.

DBS has been a part of India's journey since 1994, and it is the largest foreign bank in the country by branch presence with a physical footprint of 530 branches in 350 locations. With the study Women and Finance and its three-part report, DBS Bank India aims to gain a deeper appreciation of the evolving needs and aspirations of women in India in order to better support holistic financial management and growth.


About DBS

DBS is a leading financial services group in Asia with a presence in 19 markets. Headquartered and listed in Singapore, DBS is in the three key Asian axes of growth: Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia. The bank's "AA-" and "Aa1" credit ratings are among the highest in the world.

Recognised for its global leadership, DBS has been named “World’s Best Bank” by Global Finance, “World’s Best Bank” by Euromoney and “Global Bank of the Year” by The Banker. The bank is at the forefront of leveraging digital technology to shape the future of banking, having been named “World’s Best Digital Bank” by Euromoney and the world’s “Most Innovative in Digital Banking” by The Banker. In addition, DBS has been accorded the “Safest Bank in Asia“ award by Global Finance for 15 consecutive years from 2009 to 2023. Additionally, DBS Bank was ranked among the top 3 on Forbes' list of the World's Best Banks in India for three consecutive years, from 2020 to 2022.

DBS Bank has been present in India for 29 years, opening its first office in Mumbai in 1994. DBS Bank India Limited is the first among the large foreign banks in India to start operating as a wholly-owned, locally incorporated subsidiary of a leading global bank. DBS provides a range of banking services for large, medium, and small enterprises and individual consumers in India. In November 2020, Lakshmi Vilas Bank was merged with DBS Bank India Limited. The bank now has a network of ~530 branches in 19 Indian states.

As a bank born and bred in Asia, DBS understands the intricacies of doing business in the region’s most dynamic markets. DBS is committed to building lasting relationships with customers, as it banks the Asian way. Through the DBS Foundation, the bank creates impact beyond banking by supporting social enterprises: businesses with a double bottom-line of profit and social and/or environmental impact. DBS Foundation also gives back to society in various ways, including equipping communities with future-ready skills and building food resilience.  In 2020, DBS introduced the "Towards Zero Food Waste" initiative as part of a global sustainability practice to encourage a shift in behaviours and mindsets to reduce food waste.

With its extensive network of operations in Asia and emphasis on engaging and empowering its staff, DBS presents exciting career opportunities.

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