Increasingly a womens world

Published in the Money Management, August 2010

More women are emerging as both investors and financial services professionals in what has largely been perceived as a male-dominated environment, according to industry heads.

Wealth Within executive director Dale Gillham has been teaching individuals about market trade and investments for 15 years, and during that time he has noticed a significant shift in gender participation.

"Ten years ago, around 95 per cent of people attending my classes were men. 

All this started to shift around six years ago, and today half of my class is populated by women," Gillham said.

What's more, Gillham said female market participants were seen as more successful investors because they focus on the sustainability of an investment rather than its return.

"Traditionally, women have always taken care of household finances and they were very careful doing it. 

They tend to be more cautious than men and take that same attitude to the market," he added.

The general manager of Perth-based financial planning firm Add Wealth, Bronwen Parsons, said her company was expanding its business to the eastern seaboard due to high market demand from female investors.

"Women are an underserviced market, and for that reason we are looking for advisers who have the right attitude to service them as our clients," Parsons said.

Parsons, a member of such organisations as Business Women for Women, Women on Boards and Centenary Trust for Women, said AddWealth was looking into creating a business model for female clients where investment types wouldn't necessarily change, but more general information would be provided in order to customise their service to women.

She also found more female professionals were coming into the industry but did not know whether the Financial Planning Association (FPA) or the Association of Financial Advisers were doing anything to promote it.

Recent Financial Services Institute of Australasia research indicated that changing the workplace culture and implementing flexible work options would be most beneficial in increasing the participation rates of women in financial services.

Michelle Halvorsen from the Fiducian Group has recently been very vocal on this issue, saying there should be more promotion for this particular career path.

"I don't believe the industry is promoting this profession enough to university level females. 

There should be more encouragement at career expos, whether it comes from the FPA or other bodies," Halvorsen said.

"Female clients gravitate towards female advisers. They generally feel more comfortable with advice coming from a woman, because a woman can listen," she added.

Attracting female advisers has also become a trend with the big players in the industry, with AMP announcing earlier this year it would hold information and networking meetings to pull more women into financial planning.

Last year, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney launched an online campaign to attract female advisers.

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