A survey carried out by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) found that women say they do not understand some financial products enough to put their hard-earned cash towards them. As a result, they feel less confident about making financial decisions than men do. Women have so far tended to place their money into products such as current accounts or cash ISAs (individual savings account) instead of the more complex investment plans usually chosen by men. Women and money are making shifts and things are changing.

Why do women have this lack of understanding when it comes to money?

History tells us that women have taken the back seat when it comes to family finances. The Married Women’s Property Acts 1870 gradually, over a period of 23 years, gave women the rights to own assets independently.

But it seems women have taken time to realise the fact that they need to know just as much as men about the family finances. More and more women are finding out that they do not know what to do when their spouse passes away and have been the subject of unlawful or incorrect advice, struggling to determine what is right or wrong.

The media have often stated that this is down to women not being interested in finance because it is boring and worrying, but do we really believe this?

Current financial offerings are marketed as products, with a lot of jargon associated with them. This does not attract women, who want to know exactly what they are buying, in plain English, from a person they can relate to so they can put a frame of reference around it.

I often hear clients saying they have got advice elsewhere already but felt the process was rushed, that things were not explained carefully and that they did not feel they could ask questions.

Women’s perceptions of money – looking inside their heads

Women’s money is a very emotionally loaded discussion and it drives more couples apart than other issues. Psychotherapist Olivia Mellon has done much research into this topic and has come up with some useful insights.

She mentions that money is inextricably linked with power, happiness, security, control, dependency, independence, freedom and love. So, if someone has an issue with money, to talk about it brings up an awful lot of other problems that have been stored in their subconscious. This can evoke some deep-seated emotions. To talk about money in a relationship can bring about guilt and anxiety, which can prevent such conversations taking place. But the problems do not go away and can often become worse.

Olivia Mellon says that men are brought up to see the world as competitive and hierarchical, there is always someone above you and someone below, however women see the world as co-operative and democratic, therefore sharing. Women are also encouraged to be seen as needy and vulnerable while men are discouraged from such behaviour.

It’s time for women to start making the important decisions about money

When seeing clients, there are usually two roles taken by men, either “I’ll pretend I am listening although I know this is important but ‘she’ (partner) can deal with this” or “I’ll have a final say on this, I need to make sure I am protecting my family”. However, in reality, if the partner has strong enough opinions then the man is often swayed towards her way of thinking.

Women have taken over making financial decisions around the household bills and food shopping due to procedures nowadays. In 65% of households, in fact, women are making those financial decisions. Men have, therefore, started to step away from the day-to-day decisions. Unfortunately, it has meant that some families have not then received financial advice, which is not on a comparison website. The new age of the female financial consumer is still evolving, she is independent and wants to understand the full spectrum of advice and make an informed decision.

So why are female financial advisers a good idea?

In research, women have stated they are put off from dealing with financial advisers because of the jargon that is put out in the media and negative stories that friends, family and the press have put forward. So, they miss out on potentially crucial information that could improve their financial situation.

There are many women who prefer to deal with a female financial adviser as they are discussing personal details because all finance is always linked to lifestyle choices and family situations.

Unfortunately, as a high percentage of advisers are men, it has given clients the impression that some of them do not have the client’s best interest at heart. There are some amazing male advisers in the industry, who do not deserve this judgment. But the impression has already been made. The client wants to be listened to and be confident that they are not going to be made to feel ridiculed or incompetent in some way. Female advisers will often give an impression of caring and nurturing clients, wanting to listen to their needs and allowing clients the time to make decisions without pressure.

Why women should get advice about money from other women

Women, in general, have more commitments and challenges within their lives than ever before. They tend to be the gender that juggles with parents, children, households and jobs/businesses. It’s not surprising that they actually do need different financial advice than men. It is also vital that they see finance as an important part of their lives and something that they need to know and understand fully.

After all, as we have already discussed, women tend to live longer than men, so need to provide for themselves for longer. They also earn less than men over a lifetime because of career breaks to have children, taking part-time jobs, or caring for elderly parents

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