Women stand to benefit more from the inter-generational transfer of wealth than at any other time in history.
Some 60% of the UK’s wealth will be in the hands of women by 2025, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).
But the advice industry needs to step up.
The WealthiHer Network found over a third of women (36%) said they have felt patronised by the sector, while 28% said it was a space overly-reliant on jargon which reduced both understanding and trust.
Women and wealth transfer issues
Annabel Bosman, head of relationship management at RBC Wealth Management, told International Adviser: “Historically, the industry hasn’t done a good enough job of providing tailored services to women.
“I’ve been involved in the WealthiHer Network since 2019. The whole premise initially was to think differently and to challenge wealth managers to exceed the limits of what’s been done before when it comes to working with female clients.
“That’s happened in the last couple of years and it’s definitely a step change, but it’s not yet enough. Surveys typically show that women are less satisfied with wealth managers than men.
“There are still plenty of examples out there of women feeling condescended to, which is obviously pretty worrying. It’s getting better, but we are not there yet.”
How wrong can firms get it?
A number of firms have launched female initiatives to help women financially, including UBS.
But sometimes companies can get it wrong.
“Colouring everything pink was a big issue, I definitely kept seeing that for a while,” said Bosman. “I think this is less prevalent today and, certainly around 10 years ago, there was a trend towards recognising the rise of female breadwinners.
“Quite often, firms create a single model for working with women as a separate group, whereas what you need an overarching approach to make sure that you’re looking after female clients and prospects, while recognising that there are a huge range of experiences and backgrounds among women.
“You’re not going to capture everyone with a one size fits all approach; a female entrepreneur, a woman who inherited wealth or a woman who earned her own wealth are all going to have vastly different needs.”
Female wealth managers
According to the WealthiHer Network, 45% of UK women said there should be more female representation in the wealth sector, both in leadership and advisory roles.
So, could attracting more women to the sector be an obvious solution?
“I don’t think it’s as simple as saying that all women want to work with a female adviser,” said Bosman. “I don’t think they do. But I think they want to work with an organisation that takes diversity seriously and has female role models or individuals who champion women from the inside out.
“Firms need to make sure that if a male adviser works with a female client, he is equipped to recognise that their needs may differ from those of his male clients.
“Anecdotally again, but when we look at surveys, about how women view wealth, they typically see it as a means to fulfil life ambitions or a personal cause, versus men who can often think about wealth as an end in itself.
“It’s important to have the ability to call on all of your advisers, male and female, to think in a different way about how a women might approach their own wealth.
“Having plenty of female advisers, and that diversity of thought around the table, is a very important step in achieving this.”
When it comes to getting more women in the sector, Katherine Waller, head of new sales delivery for RBC Wealth Management, told IA the industry’s approach to work returners and maternity leave is still the biggest barrier.
“I’ve been with RBC for nine years now and earlier this year returned to work from my second maternity leave,” said Waller. “I’ve been incredibly fortunate with the support I received before, during and after my leave on both occasions.”
She said that she was “nervous” before going on maternity leave about juggling life at home and work, and how things would be managed in her absence.
But, she had a “supportive” firm and felt at ease. However, Waller added that she appreciates “that this inclusive culture isn’t the same everywhere”.
“I found it extremely comforting knowing that my clients were being managed effectively and being kept updated on the business. This made my return to work so much smoother.
“Not everyone has this experience and I think that is one of the biggest barriers to women forging long and successful careers in wealth management.”
Second careerists can also play a vital role in the make-up of the wealth industry.
“If the industry as a whole isn’t considering second careerists then it’s missing a trick, as the diversity of thought individuals can bring from other sectors is what our clients want and need,” Waller said. “Second careerists will think differently about things than those who have always worked in wealth management.
“They will have managed different challenges, asked different questions, worked in different leadership teams and worked with different clients. This can only breathe fresh air into the industry.”
“We’ve hired a number of different people from different industries for exactly this reason.
“We need to be challenging the status quo, and thinking about disrupting past patterns of inertia. And to achieve this, it’s critical that we build teams of people who think differently.”