The financial services industry must change the way it communicates with female customers, create more targeted products and increase the number of female financial planners if it is to effectively assist women manage their growing pool of finances, says ING Direct's executive director for distribution, Lisa Claes.
Speaking at the launch of the ING Direct Women & Finance Report in Sydney on Friday, Ms Claes said that women are set to be the main beneficiaries of a $2.4 trillion wealth transfer from baby boomers and Generation X in the next three decades, and unless the financial services industry provides services that cater to them, it could risk its "preservation and growth".
"Our research shows that women play a key role in finances in both the long and short term, but their approach to seeking advice and investing differs to men," she said.
"Another mark of difference between women and their male counterparts is their leverage. Women are rabid referral machines and are in fact 19 times more likely to make or act on a referral from a family member or a friend in all matters – including finances."
According to the report, approximately 93 per cent of women are either the main financial decision-maker or the joint decision-maker in their household, including 8 per cent who are the sole decision makers. Only 1 per cent of women make no financial decisions and 84 per cent of women would be confident in taking on all financial decisions.
Women are more conservative investors, for example, and tend to prefer cash and balanced investment options.
"The industry must also think about circumstances that are unique to women – such as career breaks, child rearing or caring responsibilities – and pay attention to the rise of single women living alone," Ms Claes said.
"Innovate about how to enter the property market on a single income, group buying guarantors, co–ownership, income streams for career hiatus."
According to the report, only 31 per cent of women receive financial advice even though they are interested in wealth management and investing, and Ms Claes said there should be more female financial planners to cater to women customers.
"I don't think cost [being] an impediment to seeking advice is something distinct from male to female; there is an agnostic feeling that advice is expensive," Ms Claes said. "But yes I think we need more women financial planners.
Your organisation needs to reflect your customer, so if more women are seeking financial advice then yes, we need to have more women."
Ms Claes said the industry should also look to hire more female product developers, marketers and creative directors into senior positions.
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