There are really two things that we need to believe when we’re getting advice: that the adviser understands your situation and knows what they are talking about.
It’s not the 1950s any longer; women are equal partners in their household income and making key decisions about family finances.
In years past, we thought of men as the primary income earners and it was assumed, rightly or not, that they made the decisions about financial matters. Women were charged with budgeting, a power dynamic that has persisted across decades and resulted in women being significantly better than their male counterparts at medium-term planning, sometimes at the expense of taking a long-term view.
Today, we know that this is nonsense. In families, women are often primary earners and integral to making financial decisions that set and achieve short-term goals as well as long-ranging objectives. When we talk about the value of financial advice, that goes for women at all stages of their lives. From setting up investments to planning savings – for retirement, to buy a home, or to live comfortably within a person’s means – there is a lot of value to receiving financial advice.
It’s little surprise that women might want to receive advice from someone whose experience might better match their own. Generally, financial planning has been a male-dominated industry. “Old, male and pale,” is how journalist Mary Beth Franklin described most financial planners. Anyone looking to hire a female or minority financial adviser was going to struggle to find someone qualified. In 2013, the US-based Certified Financial Planners (CFP )found that about a third of advisers were women and just 23% were certified planners - a number that had been flat for some time.
That’s one of the reasons that the CFP Board launched an initiative to recruit more women into the industry. Part of it was self-serving. In his introduction to the results of the initiative, CFP Board CEO Kevin Keller acknowledged that as the population grows, so too will demand for financial planning services. If women aren’t encouraged to pursue the profession, then the needs of the public would go unmet.
What role does diversity play in financial advice?
In short, for most people, diversity doesn’t matter at all; they just want good advice that is in their best interest. Financial consultant Eleanor Blayley, founder of Directions for Women said in a 2014 interview for Forbes, “maybe 11% of clients prefer one gender or another when it comes to choosing an adviser.”
There are cases where women did prefer to see a female adviser, including after being widowed or divorced. Even then, only about 25% of those surveyed expressed a gender preference.
“Every year, more women are attending financial advice appointments both as part of a couple as well as the primary person seeking advice,” says Australian Catholic Superannuation Financial Advice Manager Oya Gurney. “It’s important for us to be able to speak to people from all walks of life about their finances in a way that is relatable.”
“We focus on understanding a person’s needs and goals so that we can speak to them about the things that matter most to them, rather than making presumptions based on stereotypes,” she said.
Getting girls interested in finance
The financial advice field is expected to continue to grow, meaning great opportunities for jobs in the future. Being successful comes from having a financial grounding. Blayley says that, “a background in finance, accounting, business or mathematics is required. But the core of the job is good communication skills and patiently building relationships over time.”
The earlier we begin developing these skills in girls, the better the chances that we’ll have financially-rounded women who are ready to jump into the financial planning profession in the future.
"We need to educate guidance counselors and placement officers in high schools and colleges on financial planning as a distinct specialty within financial services and on the requirements and benefits of CFP certification. More CFP professionals need to speak at high school career days and make visits to college campuses.
We should also reach out to encourage women in MBA and other business programs to consider the financial planning profession as an attractive alternative to investment banking, investment management or product sales."
The diversity of our financial advice team
“Our first priority is to hire people who are financial planning experts,” says Tim Poole, Australian Catholic Superannuation Head of Financial Services. “We’re proud to say that we have a highly-qualified team that reflect the diversity of our membership.”
The quality of the team is unmatched, having been twice named Independent Financial Services “Team of the Year” two years running.
Diversity is more than gender and ethnicity; it’s also defined by experiences. Several members of our team have come to financial planning after a career change. 2016 and 2017 IFS “Planner of the Year” Boris Tesanovic, a Senior Financial Planner, had trained and worked as a nurse before deciding to find a new way to help people.
"Our first priority is to hire people who are financial planning experts.We’re proud to say that we have a highly-qualified team that reflect the diversity of our membership."
The ageing future for financial advice
Financial advice is going to play a significant role for women in the coming years. We’re all living longer; however women are outliving men by a fair amount. Unfortunately, they’re often retiring with a smaller pool of savings which makes future financial decisions all the more difficult.
Working with a financial adviser early in your life can help you create a plan for long-term financial stability. And, later in life, our financial advisers can be there to help you tackle the issues of aged care.