Female business angels on the rise in the UK

The number of women angel investors is higher than ever, according to a new study and they may be changing the way angel groups invest.

New research has found the number of females entering the angel investor community in the UK is growing at pace.

Some 12 per cent of those surveyed as part of a study by the University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith Business School were found to be female – a significant increase from previous studies, and the largest percentage of any study into the angel investor community.

‘This is encouraging news,’ said Eileen Modral, manager of Oxford Investment Opportunity Network (OION). ‘Having more female role models in the investment world sends out a strong message, not only to other women interested in providing funding support, but to potential female entrepreneurs.’

The researches cited the overall growth in angel activity and the opportunity to invest alongside others in organised groups as some of the factors driving the positive change.

Until relatively recently, the angel investor community was an invisible market in which angels operated on their own or in ad hoc groups of friends, relying on word of mouth to find their investment opportunities.

However the angel market is evolving into a more organised marketplace in which angel groups, which operate by aggregating the investment capacity of individual business angels, are becoming increasingly prevalent.

The opportunity to invest as part of a group is thought to be attracting new types of angels into the market. And the research suggests women actually assess investment opportunities differently from men.

‘Entrepreneurs need to understand this and adjust their investment pitches accordingly,’ said Professor Colin Mason, who led the research.

Angels who invest in groups are open to influence in their investment decisions from both the group manager and other angels in the group, but the study found that women were less likely than male angels to be influenced in their investment decisions by the views of other angels.

Additionally, men put the product or service of the business ahead of the people running the business as the main reason for investing, whereas women ranked people as their top investment criteria.

‘Theirs is a more holistic approach to decision-making,’ said Fiona Cruickshank, entrepreneur and founder of the women-only angel investment group Gabriel Investors. ‘They take a good look at the people, and what drives them to want to thrive in business.’

Mason added that ongoing research will be needed to ensure that practical advice can be given to entrepreneurs on how to negotiate this evolving market, and so that policy makers stay relevant in their interventions.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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Angel investing