Stop patronising women clients is the message to advisers after a report uncovered how women have been out off pensions and investments due to a 'masculine' perception of the sector.
Research firm Kantar surveyed 30,000 women, and lead author Amy Cashman concluded that the improved engagement of women in the financial sector was 'a social imperative as well as commercial opportunity'.
The average men’s retirement savings, at £73,600, are three times greater than women’s (£24,900).
The report adds that by engaging more women, financial instutions could facilitate an additional £133 billion being redirected to savings and investments.
Helen Howcroft (pictured above), managing director of London-based Equanimity IFA, responded with 'tell me something I don't know'.
She said: 'The feedback I am given is that female clients find male advisers don’t talk to them in a manner they understand or relate to, and can be quite patronising.
'In some cases where they have sought advice as a couple, advisers will speak to the husband and not the wife. They simply don’t engage with the female on finances.
'Some clients perceive that they have had poor advice just because the adviser was male, particularly in regards to the endowment mis-selling scandal. We need to enable greater diversity in this industry. It’s not just a gender thing, but a general diversity issue.'
Anna Sofat (main image), managing director of London-based Addidi Wealth, said the profession still had a long way to go to achieve gender parity, but that this related to a wider issue of a dearth of client centricity.
‘Financial services in particular is pretty male focused, in terms of most advisers and senior managers being male, so there is a masculine culture,' she said. 'But I think there are both men and women who find that off-putting and disengaging, and it does vary a great deal.
‘Many of our clients have dealt with people at all levels and so would not be intimidated as such, but it might still be off-putting - there are some very successful entrepreneurs who don’t like the sales blurb or jargon they often encounter. This is an issue in terms of the industry thinking about becoming more client centric.
‘If you look at how many people are doing DIY portfolios, it is because we are not as client centric as we ought to be.'
However, Sofat added that the research did not necessarily reflect the 'modern successful female role model', many of whom comprise her client bank, and suggested that these individuals were confident and willing to 'set their own standards'.
She added: ‘One thing I think comes across is that women don’t want to be treated fairly in the form of a little bit of pink in advertising. It’s not about nice content and lunches - it’s about how your advisers engage female clients, it’s about having a sufficient number of women at board level, it's about how you truly operate your business.’