THERE are many things to celebrate this International Women’s Day, but there are also serious points to be made about women’s financial resilience. Whether it is the median gender pay gap, currently measured at 15.9 per cent in terms of hourly pay, or the pension gap - currently estimated at £100,000, there are plenty of indicators to suggest that more needs to be done to ensure that women are as prepared financially for their futures.
There are also indications that women are less likely to invest, with Government figures suggesting they are more likely to have cash ISAs than stocks and shares products, despite the current low interest rate environment.
One of the ways to close these financial gaps is with good financial advice. Here financial adviser Bobby Dhesi from AFH Wealth Management explains why she’s passionate about her position in the financial sector and about ensuring women making the most of their money.
What drew you to this industry?
Initially, my career in Financial Services was only ever meant to be a summer job, before I started my final year at university. Roll on 20 years, various roles, as well as many changes in regulation and I, can honestly say I still enjoy working in the industry.
Do you feel that women are well represented in financial services and are there things that could be done to improve diversity?
It was very much a male dominated industry when I first started my career in 2009. Including myself, there were only 2 female advisers out of a team of approx. 50 at the time overall. Over the years, I have seen an increasing number of female advisers join the profession and whilst it is still male dominated, I do feel the gap is getting smaller.
I have seen more and more women in this field over the years. I’m not sure what could be done to improve diversity, but I do feel that more could be done to encourage people to enter the industry for example, more presence in schools, colleges, universities and careers days.
For example, I do remember, before I became a mother myself, there used to be a tendency to put women with children in the category of not being career-minded. One thing I was very conscious of was not being labelled as ‘just a mum’ so subconsciously both pre and post-maternity leave I felt I had to my best to prove that being a mother does not mean that you are not capable or driven.
Are there any different financial needs that women tend to have compared with male clients?
There is definitely a gap in pension savings due to women having had a career break because of maternity leave, going part-time, or not returning to work after becoming a mum. In addition, there can be shortfalls in protection insurance as this area tends to be overlooked when the male is still the main income earner, however, circumstances might change once children have grown up or the male can no longer be the main income earner.
Do you feel women are as confident with investment as men and if not, what could be done to improve this?
There is a generation of retired, or about to retire, women that really struggle with financial affairs, mainly because they show little interest as their husbands have always taken on that role. The problem is that when the husband passes away first, it is very daunting for them as some never had to pay a bill and struggle to deal with their financial affairs. I encourage my clients to have joint financial reviews and stress the fact that any decision that is made could have an impact on one another, which is why it is important for both parties to attend.
I feel that as financial advisers it is about educating the client as to why a joint review is recommended and the benefits that come along with it.
In general, I would say that this depends on the role women are playing in the home. For example, women that are working and taking care of financial affairs or are actively involved in the running of the household are generally as confident as men.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
I feel it is about empowering women in making themselves a priority, taking time to care for themselves first. Women tend to find themselves spinning so many plates, looking after everyone else first that they sometimes forget about themselves.