Alarming figures have shone an unflattering spotlight on the issues that are holding women back from engaging with financial professionals.
It is well-established that fewer women meet with financial advisers and planners – but the reasons for this are multi-faceted, as a report from female-focused research firm the WealthiHer Network has found.
Just under half (45%) of UK women said there should be more female representation in the wealth sector, both in leadership and advisory roles, according to the report.
The WealthiHer Network surveyed 2,500 people* about their attitudes to wealth and identified trends around how women’s attitudes to money. On top of that, it conducted 1-2-1 interviews and focus groups with over 100 high net worth women.
A key takeaway was that many respondents believed that female relationship managers could better understand the pressures of their clients (such as career or maternity breaks), as well as motivations involving the home and family.
But over a third of women (36%) said they have felt patronised by the sector, while 28% said it was an industry overly-reliant on jargon which both reduced understanding and trust.
Some 24% of women said financial education should be improved and offered at an early age to boost confidence and knowledge.
It also found female clients want a more personalised and tailored experience, and want more access to peer networks to share experiences in order to make better decisions.
The network said: “It’s clear we can do far more to engage and enable our female clients.
“Change is needed. To have impact it needs to be a collaborative effort driven from within and across the industry.”
The wealth sector has historically not been the most equality-friendly place, and this could have affected more female clients.
Most women (70%) believe they had average or below self-esteem when it comes to engaging with wealth.
Some 36% spoke about a fear of getting it wrong and a lack of knowledge.
Karen Frank, chief executive of Barclays Private Bank and Overseas Services, was quoted in the report as saying: “Women have more financial power than ever with more than 50% of the UK’s wealth expected to be in their hands by 2025.
“Female preference around growing, protecting and managing their wealth can vary considerably from their male counterparts, therefore it’s fundamental we understand our clients’ motivations to ensure our solutions are tailored and relevant.”
The report found there were some perceived ideological differences between the sexes, as 72.5% of women believe that they have different investment attitudes and styles to men.
For example, the majority of women (71%) strongly believe men take more risks, and 67% of women said that when investing it is important to have a social outcome.
Around 59% of women said that wealth is important to be able to provide for family in terms of security and comfort.
Tamara Gillen – chief executive and co-founder of the WealthiHer Network, said. “Our research points us towards crucial differences between men and women. Women believe that financial performance is important, but personal goals are paramount.
“For women, wealth is not a means to an end. Wealth means creating opportunities, independence, and providing for those we care about irrespective of socioeconomic class, there is an overwhelming desire by women for wealth to provide meaning.
“Some 67% said making a positive impact was of high importance. As women, we believe in a better life for others as well as ourselves.”
*The report surveyed 2,500 men and women, but focused on the female respondents for the report.