Jenny Tooth, the chief executive of the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA), told an investment forum in Leeds that the sector was still dominated by men and that there was a need for more female role models showcasing how they were making successful investments.
Ms Tooth, who has more than two decades worth of helping SMEs access finance, added that there was a need to dispel the myths that all investors were extremely wealthy and that the process was too fraught with risk.
She made her remarks as part of an address to the Women Angels of the North Investment Forum event at The Queens Hotel in Leeds.
“One of our big things is the lack of female role models,” said Ms Tooth.
“We need more case studies and more women talking about their success stories. This is all about awareness and building confidence.
“We have also got to change some of the structures around this.
“Most of the investment groups have been run by male investors. We advocate a forum in which diversity is the key.”
In the last tax year just under £1.8bn was invested into 3,700 small businesses but Ms Tooth said this figure would grow substantially were there to be an enhancement in the amount of private investment from women.
The UKBAA commissioned pan-European research last year to look at what the principal motivators were for female investors.
The findings showed that, surprisingly, financial return was lower down the list than other concerns.
“The amount of money that people were making in their day job was not the relevant part when it came to investing,” said Ms Tooth.
“The most important thing was not the money. It was often a fascination with really helping their local economy, with putting something back, with really using their own skills and knowledge.
“Making money came much further down the list. We also found that people were fascinated with meeting entrepreneurs.”
Breaking down the myths around the investment process dominated much of the event’s discussion, with 90 per cent of women surveyed saying that their financial advisers had not brought up angel investing as a possible use of spare capital.
Ms Tooth said: “There are a lot of myths that women have around the whole investment process.
“They think it is very risky and that you have to have lots of money. Many women had seen Dragons’ Den and thought you had to be like Deborah Meaden.
“This is not the case. It is smaller amounts of money.
“There is often that issue of women feeling like they have too many demands on their finances.
“They think the money has to go into the mortgage or school fees, while their husbands don’t. It is about putting a small amount of that capacity and not betting the farm on angel investing.
“We know this can be very interesting and financially beneficial.
“ Overall, most women you talk to are still in the early stage of building their portfolio.
“The one thing that I think is important is that women invest in women.
“Most women investors would naturally build part of their portfolio around female entrepreneurs.”
Karen Sadler, business tax consultant at Garbutt & Elliott, said that there were considerable tax benefits to the investment process and that more needed to be done to educate the public about this.