Women 'receive worse investment advice'

Women 'receive worse investment advice'

Women feel they are getting unequal financial advice and may hold back from investing because of it, according to a nationwide survey.

Research commissioned by the Enterprise Investment Scheme Association (EISA), which surveyed more than 2,000 people across the UK, found 19 per cent of women feel they are given poorer quality financial advice from their independent advisers when compared with the advice given to men.

The survey reported seven per cent of women believe they would invest £33,000 more on average if there was no gender disparity in investment.

Mark Brownridge,director general of the EISA, said the survey showed there must be a “significant shift” in the industry.

“Gender disparity across a plethora of sectors is reaching a much-needed wake-up call and today’s research indicates the investment arena is no different,” he said.

“The overwhelming lack of support and opportunity, calls for a significant shift in the industry, one that must be addressed by every angle, from academic progression by way of professional development and senior role-models, to accessibility and ongoing guidance.”

The figures showed 40 per cent  of 18-34-year-old investors and consumers believe there is a lack of female role models in investment, compared to 3 per cent  of the over 55s.

Meanwhile 1 in 5 investment minded women believe their academic and career opportunities were not aligned with a career in finance.

More than a third of affluent (£100k+) investors and consumers believe the investment arena is weighted heavily towards men and women are not equally supported.

Several financial advisers disputed the assertion women do not receive the same advice as men.

“I adopt the same investment strategies for both men and women, I'm not sure why anyone would discriminate between the two,” said Matthew Walne, of Santorini Financial Planning in Leicestershire.

Alan Chan, chartered financial planner at London- based IFS Wealth & Pensions said he was “not sure that gender comes into play at all here”.

However, some advisers, including Jennifer Davy, who runs a female-focused IFA service called Independent Women, said there was a difference in the service available to different sexes.

“I’d say the quality of the advice is the same, as in the products and funds and likely performance,” she said.

 “I think there’s a difference in the quality of the service, though.  By that, I mean knowing your client base and offering a service that meets their needs – not just a one-size-fits-all approach. 

"The industry doesn’t tend to offer services  which understand or meet women’s needs,” she added.  

“It’s too easy to say that women are more conservative or risk-averse – that’s not necessarily the case all the time.  But they want to do their research and know their options and ask questions. 

"That means a softer approach, possibly more guidance-based, and ultimately attuned to a woman’s values and life priorities. 

"So the underlying advice might be the same, but the process of meeting the client and understanding their needs and engaging/communicating with them is quite different.  Also, women can tend to have a more ethical approach to their investments.