Delivering financial advice to women
Royal commission SME lending hearings - live:

Delivering financial advice to women

One of the common laments heard across the industry is the lack of women seeking advice, but a cohort of female advisers is working hard to address the imbalance.


One of the common laments heard across the industry is the lack of women seeking advice, but a cohort of female advisers is working hard to address the imbalance.


When couples visit a financial planner the male partner, particularly when it is also a male adviser, is often the most engaged and in some instances, the female partner will not even attend.

There are of course a growing number of both younger and older women seeking out financial advice, but for some it can still be quite intimidating. And this isn’t helped by anecdotal evidence that suggests there are still a small minority of old school planners who aren’t very good at engaging with women.

With women representing more than half of the adult population, not only is it a gender imbalance that should be addressed, it also offers a huge business opportunity.

But in some good news, a cohort of female financial advisers – lead by the semi-finalists of this year’s Female excellence in Advice award, a joint initiative by the AFA and TAL supported by the Macquarie School of Graduate Management – are working hard to address this imbalance and give women what they want.

Women want to be included

Semi-finalist Nadia Cassidy of Mercer Financial Advice says an issue that she often sees, particularly with older clients, is where the male advisers bond with male partners who have traditionally taken responsibility for the family’s entire financial affairs.

However when the male partner gets very sick or passes away, the female partner ultimately is so disengaged that she seeks advice elsewhere.

“Building that relationship equally between a partnership is so incredibly important, which women are naturally so skilled at doing,” Nadia says.

Shu-Yi Schulstad of InsureWealth Financial Services and Consultancy says the most common reasons that she hears from women for not seeking financial advice, or not seeking financial advice sooner, when they come and see her, is that they didn't think they could afford it.

“The second thing they say is that they don’t want to appear stupid,” she says.
And quite often they still rely on their male partner to organise their financial affairs.

Female advisers therefore have a unique opportunity to leverage some of their more empathetic qualities to make women feel comfortable in a financial advice situation.

Women want the right advice

Kate McCallum of Multiforte Financial Services says it also depends on the type of advice being given.

“I don't think we have a problem getting women to financial advice when its holistic financial advice,” she says.

“I think what women don’t engage with is being told how to trade on the share market,” she says.

All the semi-finalists agreed that what most of their female clients wanted was strategic holistic advice about how to build their wealth, which is quite different to advice around how to make the most money on the share market.

They want help with relevant tax strategies, estate planning and how to structure their investments and an ongoing relationship to help coach and guide them in their financial decisions.

Many women may also think that good advice is expensive and therefore beyond their reach, but there are many affordable options now available.

“I’d like to change the perception that advice is just for people with lots of money,” Adrienne Rush of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank says.

Women want a community

Many of the semi-finalists, which represent the cream of the financial advice crop, hold workshops targeted specifically at women.

Adrienne is very passionate about the seminars she holds. She makes them fun, and brings in speakers like Layne Beachley to present.

“Sitting there listening to financial literacy and educating women all about that can be really boring, so you've got to make it interesting,” she says.

“It’s always a really big learning environment for them.”

She also uses the proceeds from those workshops to help charities run financial literacy seminars for women who are not able to afford advice.

Shu-Yi holds seminars for women’s social groups and shares financial information with them.

“When they have a little bit of background information they feel more comfortable in approaching advice”.

Sarah Reigelhuth of Wealth Enhancers engages with young professional women via a series of breakfast events. She says it’s important to create a comfortable environment for women.

“It’s just a space where you trust enough to start talking about money,” she says.

And Dominique Bergel-Grant of Leapfrog Financial started the Leapfrog Women and Money website to try and involve and educate women.

The key is creating a safe place where women don’t feel intimidated and they can start to engage with the financial advice process.

“The government does financial literacy statistics and we all know how much women fall behind men and I think that's [partly] because of misrepresentation of women versus men in this particular industry,” Bergel-Grant says.

So therefore perhaps one of the best ways that will ensure more women seek financial advice is if there are more female advisers, something the industry truly needs to tackle with initiatives such as the Female Excellence in Advice Award.

TAL is sponsor of the AFA Female Excellence in Advice award. 


Delivering financial advice to women
ifa logo
promoted stories