We’re acutely aware that everyone’s situation is different, and that this difference is rarely more pronounced than when it comes to women, men, and finance. Aside from the disparities on Wall Street and divergent career choices, it looks like even the most basic financial planning divides along gender lines. The latest line is right down the middle of our favorite subject: retirement.
Women Are Underprepared For Retirement
Smart Money reports that over 70% of women feel underserved and unsatisfied with the financial-planning services they receive, and that this isn’t just in their heads. On average, a woman’s savings are only two-thirds as large as a man’s when she reaches retirement. The blame, as assigned by the article, rests largely on the shoulders of financial advisers—a male-dominated field—who encourage “testosterone-fueled” investing when their clients aren’t fully on board. In favor of this argument, there’s the statistic that 70% of divorced women and widows leave the financial adviser who served their husbands.
Discomfort Leads To Avoidance
Women, who statistically live longer than men and therefore require a larger amount of retirement savings, often feel alienated by the patronizing and off-putting tone used by financial planning firms when speaking to women. In marriages, planners often focus on the husband and translate his wishes into a strategy that is supposed to suit his wife by default. But when he is out of the picture, the advisers assume that his preferences still stand. Consequently, many women feel uncomfortable dealing with their financial adviser and end up neglecting their finances.
Planners Aren’t An Excuse
It’s easy to blame financial advisers—while we’re at it, why not rage at the gender bias in general? Because the bottom line is that due to these patterns—the discomfort of women dealing with their male advisers, the perception that firms don’t respect female wishes—women are the ones who suffer. And we need to find a way around it. No one forces us to use a particular adviser or firm, so we recommend choosing someone who responds to your financial needs and with whom you feel comfortable.
Advice From An Adviser
Elissa Burton of Francis Financial recommends that before picking an adviser, "Interview three or four financial planners then pick the one you feel most comfortable with. Picking a financial planner is a big decision—don't be afraid to really interview them. We have even had some potential clients ask to speak with one or two current clients to get an idea of what working with us is really like." She says to be honest with a potential adviser, and that a good adviser should encourage you to ask questions. And if you prefer to work with a woman, they’re out there—we know it for a fact.
Tell us in the comments: What qualities would you look for in a financial adviser?