‘Women are not more risk-averse; they are risk-aware’

‘Women are not more risk-averse; they are risk-aware’
Gillian Hepburn, head of UK intermediary solutions at Schroders

Advisers must place a greater emphasis on ensuring female partners are part of the advice process before they inherit, by creating a safe place to talk, according to Schroders' head of UK intermediary solutions Gillian Hepburn.

Speaking at FTAdviser’s Later Life Summit (May 19), Hepburn explained how it is important for advisers to include female partners into the conversation of wealth transfers, although said it can sometimes be difficult to do so.

“It’s a really tricky one because we hear from advisers that sometimes spouses does not want to be involved, or the husband doesn't want their spouse to be involved in the process,” she said.

However, she explained that over the last couple of years, through the use of technology to engage with people, it has become easier for advisers to get the female partner involved in conversation. 

“I think what we're also seeing is that many of these women just want some education,” she said.

“They also want a safe place to talk about their savings and investments and, actually, when the couple have met the adviser in terms of the concerns needed, they found the male partner often just wants to talk about investment performance.

"However, a woman wants to talk about long-term protection for their family, so they actually have very different requirements, attitudes and views towards money.”

Hepburn said the first stage to tackling this was to ensure there are no stereotypes adopted in what the female partner wants from an adviser. 

“Allegedly [it is believed] women are more risk averse but we don't think that's the case; we think they are just more risk aware,” she added.

“Someone earlier also talked about women managing the household finances perfectly well so, if that's the case, why is there a lack of confidence about their finances?

“We need to take a step back and listen to what these women were telling us.”

Likewise, St James’s Place's divisional director of retirement and holistic planning Claire Trott said female advisers who are speaking to other women can help, but it is not the only solution.

She explained that it depends on how the client is dealt with, and the adviser themselves. 

“Advisers that we deal with day in, day out, are all different and have different ways of engaging with people. 

“[Couples] don't have to talk to the same adviser; they just need to find one they're comfortable with. It’s that first step of being comfortable to talk to an adviser that I think is the biggest hurdle. 

“That comes back to the education piece mentioned: understanding the terminology and the jargon that we use can all be really daunting.”

Trott argued that advisers need to be encouraging both parties to be open and honest with each other as to what they have got, how it works and what it means to them.