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Women in relationships at risk of ‘financial abuse’

New research shows three in five Australian women in a relationship are susceptible to “financial abuse”, making it essential that financial advisers offer guidance and support, CoreData says.

According to CoreData’s Female Financial Abuse report, which surveyed 801 women, 53 per cent of women have no financial plan, with 70.3 per cent saying they depend, to an extent, on their partner for financial support.

These women are therefore at risk of financial abuse, which CoreData describes as the risk of being exposed to “a relationship break down, manipulative relationship, or their partner’s financially irresponsible behaviour – leaving the female lacking financial security”.

CoreData's head of WA, Kristen Turnbull, said despite women becoming increasingly independent within Australian society, many still rely on their partner for stability.

“Women who face up to reality and take control of their financial situation are less at risk of financial abuse,” she said.

“However, a lot of women are leaving themselves vulnerable – no matter how much they trust and love their partners – by not taking the steps to financially educate themselves and attain a level of financial independence from their partner. Importantly, it’s often the most vulnerable that appear to be the least aware of their vulnerability.”

The research also found that fewer than 11 per cent of women are financially confident and have solid knowledge of their financial situation. Just two in five women own assets separately from their partner, with only 39 per cent possessing a savings account and 29 per cent failing to save on a monthly basis.


“Our research suggests that because there is little self-awareness of vulnerability to financial abuse, the best measures are more objective ones such as holding independent assets rather than women’s own opinions,” Ms Turnbull said.

Financial advisers have a role to play in helping women to better educate themselves about their financial situation and to take control of their financial future.

“Financial advisers should make sure that both partners are present when discussing joint finances and that the female has, at the least, an understanding of their asset and debt position and how their finances are structured – even if they’re not wanting to play a more active role in the decision-making process,” she said.

“It’s about recognising that knowledge is the key to empowerment, and educating women through an easy-to-understand, step-by-step process can go a long way to reducing their risk of financial vulnerability and increasing their financial independence and security.”