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Industry could do better by women

New Zealand’s adviser community could be doing better to cater for female clients, it has been claimed.

Tuesday, March 8th 2016, 6:00AM

by Susan Edmunds

Today is International Women’s Day.

Research from State St Global Advisers found women now control US$11 trillion ($16.2 trillion) in investable assets, and their long-term perspective tended to result in better risk- and cost-adjusted returns.

But it found 39% of women still felt misunderstood by the investment industry and more could be done to more actively engage them.

“Gender stereotypes and fundamental service misalignments are standing in the way of the industry meeting the needs of female investors. If we fail to change the conversation and don’t move away from deeply entrenched stereotypes when we look at male and female investors, we are likely increasing opportunity risk and making it harder for female clients to meet their financial goals,” it said.

Rebecca Thomas, of Mint Asset Management, said the financial services industry in New Zealand had a problem in the way it dealt with younger clients and women. “Business tends to come from white males over 50. The industry is not doing well at dealing with people who are not middle-aged men,” she said.

Thomas said women often wanted to gather a lot of information so they felt they were making informed investment decisions, and would take more time on research than their male counterparts.

Processes would need to change as the industry started dealing with a more diverse group of people who were saving rather than dealing only with those who had a lump sum, she said.

Susanna Stuart, of advisory firm Stuart & Carlyon, agreed. “Finance is dominated by the male fraternity.”

She said investment advice and the financial services sector in general seemed intimidating to those who were not familiar with it.  Advisers needed to be prepared to talk things through with those who were not comfortable with the jargon, she said.

“The financially vulnerable are usually women. Especially if they’ve never dealt with finances before, you have to be very respectful of where they are. If you are talking to couples you need to talk to them as equals and not just talk to the dominant financial handler.”

But Thomas cautioned against research that stated female investors had set characteristics.  “Not all women think the same, just as not all men think the same.”

Tags: investment

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