What women want: Changing the advice space for female clients

JBWere female women's wealth women in financial services financial advisers

18 June 2024
| By Jasmine Siljic |
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JBWere Australia CEO, Maria Lykouras, and a female financial adviser have underscored how advice practices can better service female clients.

The Growth of Women and Wealth white paper released earlier this year by wealth specialist JBWere, in conjunction with CoreData, examined the investment appetite of Australian high-net-worth (HNW) female investors.

It discovered that female investors have similar risk profiles to their male counterparts, contrary to previous studies. One in five female investors (21 per cent) identified as an aggressive investor, the same proportion of men (20 per cent).

While HNW female clients exhibit strong financial confidence and have a desire for non-traditional assets, several barriers still exist that prohibit them from receiving quality advice.

Speaking to Money Management, Maria Lykouras, JBWere Australia chief executive, explained: “The financial services industry was built by men and is run by men. There were these views that women didn’t understand financials as well and had more conservative risk profiles. As a result, when women go seek advice, they still report they experience barriers to getting good financial advice.”

Some of these obstacles include female investors feeling patronised, not fully listened to, pushed out of the conversation with their partner or not offered the same investment opportunities.

“This particularly comes true when you talk about non-traditional asset classes. Although the JBWere report does show that women are accessing alternatives, a lot of them say that those types of opportunities are not being presented to them,” Lykouras said.

“They also say they’ve been advised to de-risk their portfolio, which comes back to the idea that women can’t manage risk or that they’re most risk-averse. A lot of times, the types of investments put in front of them are more conservative in nature.”

As a result, a number of women have lost trust in their relationship with financial advisers, the CEO reflected, leading some to stop seeking advice altogether.

Financial adviser Laura Kelly also noted a similar experience: “It’s not that female clients don’t want to [invest in alternatives]. It may be due to some advisers’ predetermined biases about the way women invest, so they’re not even bringing that option to the table.

“A lot of women I speak to are open to non-traditional asset classes – they just want to understand it first, like any investor would.”

Turning the corner

With these barriers in mind, Lykouras and Kelly highlighted how advisers can better service their female clients to strengthen their trust.

The CEO said: “We need advisers in this industry to make advice a safe place for women. A place where women feel like they’re being listened to, where trust is at the core of the relationship, where the adviser actually understands the woman’s background, their experience, their family life and their risk appetite.”

The two professionals also recognised the importance of different communication styles between male and female clients.

“Womens’ communication styles are characterised by patience, being detail-oriented, customisable and personable. If you can implement these things in the way that you engage with women, they will feel like this is a place where they can build a long-term trusted relationship,” Lykouras added.

For Kelly, this also means avoiding complicated language or unnecessary jargon for clients with less financial knowledge.

“I actually try to break it down into simple terms and really educate [the client], rather than overcomplicating it” she said.

With women expected to be the greatest beneficiary of the incoming intergenerational wealth transfer, Lykouras urged advice practices to review the way they service female clients to ensure long-term growth.

“Advice businesses need to change, because their clients of tomorrow will not look like their clients of today. They need to shift to ensure their businesses continue to thrive over the next 10 years, especially when we start to see these intergenerational wealth transfers occur and more money shifts into the hands of women,” she described.

“Now is the time for us as an industry and more broadly to start rethinking the way we work with women.”
 

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