The numbers are unequivocal: Australian financial planning is men’s business. Using Financial Planning Association (FPA) membership data as a proxy for the whole profession, just over 20 per cent of Australia’s financial advisers are female.
That’s great if men like talking to other men about retirement planning, among the many other important services planners provide, but advice is about much more than that. An environment where clients will face a male adviser in four out of five instances is not immediately inviting to a client base which is split evenly between the sexes.
Worse is when a male adviser will feel an unexplainable need to address the other man in the room almost at the exclusion of the woman.
That’s a great way to put half your clients on the wrong side. If more Australians are to be drawn to seeking advice, it’s plainly obvious we need more female advisers.
ING Direct head of customer delivery Lisa Claes says there is a huge, latent demand for female financial planners from a growing cohort of successful women.
She says several “financial ecosystem” trends – while not unique to Australia – suggest more Australian women are going to require financial advice.
Female graduates are outnumbering men in many fields – fuelling demand for financial education from savvier, higher-income-earning women, she says. Also, there is an “increasing minority” of women who earn more than their male partners. Lastly, the huge intergenerational wealth transfer hitting the Baby Boomer population will redistribute its largesse equally among men and women, with the larger proportion accruing with women who, in aggregate, live longer than men.
“It’s fair to draw the inference that a lot of money is coming into female hands, so they’re going to need advice,” Claes says.
“And if you accept that the mix of financial planners should reflect the customer base, then this is a great time for women to enter the profession.”