'Once Women Chose Whether to Work - Now They Have To' RUTH LOGNONNE Speaks to Barbara-Ann King, Right, Who Leads the Department Focussed on Female Clients at Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, about the Commercial Power of Women as Leaders and Their Relevance in a Rapidly Changing World

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FROM Estee Lauder's humble beginnings in her uncle's chemist to JK Rowling's life as a single mum on benefits and writing in cafes, the world is full of women who have started with nothing and built multi-million pound business empires.

A former lawyer and academic, Barbara-Ann King believes that encouraging more female entrepreneurs could be key to Britain's global economic recovery.

During a visit to Newcastle early last week, she said: "Women control PS12.8trillion in annual consumer spending around the world.

"For the first time in the UK, there are a greater number of female millionaires than male millionaires and we expect this trend not only to continue, but to accelerate in the coming years.

"We are seeing greater numbers of women pass through higher education and go on to be better paid. As they continue on this upward march, both in terms of career success and increasing salaries, more women are coming into wealth and are becoming more financially astute and independent.

"When once a woman would choose whether or not she would go to work, nowadays they often have to work.

"With this growing affluence and awareness comes greater engagement by women in managing their personal finances, from securing and growing their wealth to leaving a legacy for their loved ones."

Research has shown that nearly half of women feel that investment services should focus more on understanding and meeting their needs.

History dictates that men have traditionally taken care of the "financial side of things" but many women are now hungry for change.

This is in terms of the advice they receive and how they deal with their finances.

Barclays Wealth is at the forefront of this advancement and, as part of its efforts to respond to female criticism of a male-dominated financial services industry, the bank has created the right toolkit for supporting these aspiring women.

"Women need access to the right information and networks," said Barbara-Ann. "Although times are changing, women can often find themselves excluded from networks that are an important source of advice and opportunities. …