The Fearless Mrs. Watanabe: Japan’s Original Influencer

Women have always felt excluded from the investing world and some have looked for alternative ways to encourage fellow women to break into investing, even when it seemed inaccessible to them. One unlikely yet successful example of this in international markets is the trend of Mrs. Watanabe. Rather than being an individual, Mrs. Watanabe — a common Japanese surname — is the collective term used to describe the Japanese housewives who created a financial and cultural phenomenon. These unlikely investment mavens rose to prominence in the early 2000’s when, in a bid to maximize their family savings in the face of low interest rates, they began engaging in currency trading. The women did this by buying yen at low rates and then making a profit by trading it for a high growth currency, often Australian dollars. As the yen continued to fall over the course of the decades, Mrs. Watanabes across Japan began to make high risk, high reward trades, having such an impact on both Japanese and global markets that they’ve been credited with helping to stabilize the fluctuating yen. This determination to grow their family pots, led to the Mrs. Watanabe movement reaching cult status, and inspiring similar phenomenon’s such as India’s Mrs. Gupta. Mrs. Gupta is characterized as a typical traditional Indian housewife who has made an unexpected entrance into the world of investment and encouraged others to follow suit. In February 2020, only 10% of day traders in India were women, but by January 2021 that number rose by 77%. While the Mrs. Gupta movement hasn’t quite followed the same path as Mrs. Watanabe, when coupled with the impact of the global pandemic, it has reportedly led to a rise of female day traders in India. Women have repeatedly demonstrated their ability and desire to navigate their own investment path, even when excluded. While the far-reaching influence of the Mrs. Watanabe and Mrs. Gupta movements will long remain the stuff of legend, alternative routes of investing highlights will serve and help all women.