The financial services industry was failing to serve the financial needs of women as it continued to wear a "males' lens", ING Direct executive director of customer delivery, Lisa Claes said.
Speaking at Money Management's Women's Wealth Breakfast event at The Ivy Ballroom this morning, Claes said this was not surprising as only five per cent of financial services chief executives were women, and only 24 per cent held key senior management roles.
"These ratios are a gross disproportion to the customer base," she said.
Claes said although women's financial advice needs differed from men, they played a key role in organising their family's finances, and added that some misconceptions prevailed around their roles in finances.
"According to popular thinking and societal conditioning, women are biologically wired to focus on family rather than finances. We can do both. They're more comfortable thinking about children's classes than asset classes, and family goals over financial goals. However, impressions can be misleading," she said.
Women tended to gravitate towards conservative savings vehicles that guaranteed security and relative certainty of returns and opted for avenues like fixed term deposits.
In superannuation, women chose cash hubs and managed options and hesitated to explore equities.
The industry needed to innovate products that would cater to women's unique circumstances like career breaks, or those increasingly living alone.
"So innovate around how to enter the property market on a single income, group buying, guarantors," Claes said.
While women were confident decision makers at home, they valued information, validation and dialogue from their advisers
Advisers also need to keep their advice simple and eliminate jargon, and they should demystify what could sometimes be complex financial terms for their clients, Claes said.