Financial planning is really about… gender equity

Women access financial planning less than men, earn less than men, accumulate less than men and retire with less than men. One third of women receiving an age pension live below the poverty line.

Single women who do not own a home suffer the most.

You owe it to your female clients to let them know the obstacles they face and the extra strategies they need to make sure this does not happen to them.

Start with the gender income and wealth accumulation bias. It’s caused by:

  • educational decisions and opportunities. Schoolgirls study lower income subjects (think textiles), rather than maths and sciences. At University women continue the trend, opting for courses aligned with low income occupations (think teaching and nursing);
  • occupational income bias. Women are paid less for the same work. This is across all industries and professions. Female university graduates earn on average 4% less than males, and the gap widens as their careers progress;
  • greater engagement in unpaid work, absences from paid work, due to child bearing and rearing responsibilities and greater other family care responsibilities (eg aging parents and parents in law);
  • the continuing gender-based stereotype within the family that men should be the full time main bread winners and women’s roles are complementary and supportive; and
  • the phenomenon of earlier retirement, whereby women retire before men – despite having significantly greater life expectancies.

The answer to gender inequity is not a pink PDS, a glossy photo and an invitation to a ‘networking’ cocktail party hosted by a fund manager. Your real female clients are too busy working and looking after the kids to get to these events. You have to do better than that.

Reach out to your female clients. It’s easy. Just e-mail them. And then, when they need to meet, meet at their place so they don’t have to get someone in to look after the kids. Be prepared for some chaos.

Inform your female clients. Advocate for them. Coach them. Educate them.

It starts with extra super from an early age to compensate for the employment gaps. It ends with assertiveness training and a strict insistence on equal rights in the workplace and all family and personal relationships.

The stakes are high. The future poor will be women, particularly single women who do not own a home. Most will be retired for well over twenty years. Retirement near or below the poverty line is not much fun.

Your strategies should focus on assertive workplace behaviour to avoid gender underpayment, home ownership strategies and super – as much as possible as young as possible.

The big thing is education. Educate all your clients, but particularly educate your female clients. They need it more.

You can read an excellent article by Catherine Robson on the value of educating your female clients here: How a financial planner saved Book Club host Jennifer Byrne’s life.

A suggestion: PDF this article, send it to your female clients and invite them in for a meeting to discuss what they should be doing now.

Interested in learning more about women and financial planning? Educating your female clients? In 2015 the ANZ released the “ANZ Women’s Report Barriers to Achieving Financial Gender Equity” and you can download this report here: ANZ Women’s Report Barriers to Achieving Financial Gender Equity.

Another suggestion: PDF this report, send it to your female clients and invite them in for a meeting to discuss what they should be doing now.

The Dover Group