Female financial advisers; are you better off taking advice about your finances from a woman?

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Would you prefer to talk to a female adviser about your finances or don’t you care as long as you get good advice? I get lots of questions and feedback from SavvyWoman users and some definitely prefer to talk to another woman.

The evidence
One of the reasons that I started SavvyWoman was because I felt that women were being ignored by large swathes of the financial industry; from banks to investment companies and from advisers to the financial press. Because most of those running these companies and writing about finance tend to be men, they often reflect a male perspective in the decisions they make and the language they use.

For example:

– Women tend to assess risk differently to men. For a long time I’ve felt that the financial industry has been particularly bad at explaining the risk of investments in a way that resonates with women.

SAVVY TIP: It’s always dangerous to make generalisations but research shows that men are more likely to look at the maths of how the deal stacks up and may focus less on how much they could lose if it goes wrong.

– Women tend to be more put off by jargon. I can’t imagine that many of us like jargon but women seem to find it more off-putting than men, who can see jargon as being ‘part of the deal’ or ‘going with the territory’.

The case for
Recently I met a SavvyWoman user who had contacted a financial adviser she’d seen quoted on SavvyWoman. She said that this (female) adviser was the first independent financial adviser who’d actually listened to what she said rather than telling her what she should do with her money (and she was the first female she’d been to see).

Is this a one off or are there advantages to using a female adviser?

– A female adviser may be better at talking in your language. It’s not that men and women can’t communicate (that’s a whole different debate!) but a woman may have more understanding of your approach to risk, your relationship with money etc.

SAVVY TIP: Anna Sofat of Addidi says that feedback from her clients shows that some do feel more comfortable talking to a female IFA. “One client said that she likes dealing with my firm which is targeted at women because I understand why and how women are different when it comes to their own finances and financial planning. Another said she liked the fact that she didn’t feel patronised.”

– A female adviser may be better at listening. The financial adviser should have the expert knowledge but the advice has to be right for you. One of the most important parts of an IFA’s job is to listen to what you’re telling them about what you want from your money, your existing commitments, what may be around the corner etc.

SAVVY TIP: Philippa Gee of Philippa Gee Wealth Management says it’s all a question of who you feel comfortable with. “Some women prefer to deal with women when it comes to financial matters, others with men. Women often come to see me as a result of change in their lives — bereavement, divorce etc, so there’s often quite a lot of emotion around the financial issues.”

The case against
Some women will baulk at the idea that you get a better service or better advice by going to a female independent financial adviser. Surely the main thing is that the adviser is good at their job and that you trust them?

– The gender of the adviser should be irrelevant. Are there really that many differences between men and women when it comes to how they handle money? If you feel comfortable with the financial adviser you should be able to ask whatever questions you want.

– There aren’t many female independent financial advisers. If you want face-to-face advice you may find there are very few female independent financial advisers in your area.

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