How can firms help women engage with their finances?

Alva Devoy Fidelity International Kate Howitt Women in Business

4 March 2022
| By Laura Dew |
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Women do not necessarily realise the benefits of a career in finance, according to Fidelity, which is having the knock-on effect of leaving female consumers disengaged with their finances.

Speaking at a roundtable, Alva Devoy, managing director at Fidelity International, said many women were disengaged with their finances. A recent Fidelity report had found women were more likely to suffer financial stress and worry, less likely to be personally contributing to their superannuation and less prepared for retirement.

They also noted they found investment communication was ‘complicated’ and ‘intimidating’ to them.

Devoy said it was therefore important that the industry reached women in the areas where they were most represented such as schools.

“If you go into school then you can reach students and their mums at the same time and female advisers can target a program within that. We are going to have to step forward into the areas where women are participatory and meet them.

“Female representation in the industry brings down a lot of barriers too, the more female advisers there are, the more female portfolio managers there are, if you see faces you recognise then you are more likely to engage.”

She also referenced financial education in schools and questioned why students weren’t being taught about their finances from a young age.

“We don’t we educate people as a matter of course on their money issues, you can teach maths by teaching about money so why not combine the two things?”

Kate Howitt, portfolio manager on the Fidelity Australian Opportunities fund, added she had noticed low engagement with female students when she had attended school career days compared to high engagement with male students.

“Financial services has an image problem, people don’t understand how it helps people, they see it as the Wolf of Wall Street and greedy bastards. We need to get more women in the industry but they don’t associate it with being meaningful.”

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