In the UK, women received the same voting rights as men in 1928, but as late as the early 1980s they were still finding that mortgage applications were being rejected unless they had a male guarantor.
While the UK has come a long way towards establishing a more equal society, finance may be one of the final frontiers when it comes to recognising and supporting the different needs of women.
One such example is that of retirement income. Data analysis from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, on behalf of more2life, found that on average women are likely to receive £180,000 less than their male counterparts over the course of retirement.
Indeed, as reported by FTAdviser earlier this month, the average pension pot of a woman is one-fifth the size of a man's pension pot.
Much of this stems from the frustratingly familiar gender pay gap, and the consequence of women taking a larger role in caring responsibilities – either leaving paid employment to do so, going part-time or reducing their hours.
To better serve this market, FTAdviser asked three experts what advisers should know about later-life planning for women.
1. How to provide choice for women in later life
Will Hale, chief executive of equity release specialist Key
While there are certainly differences between men and women’s aspirations in retirement, as well as their resources and longevity, the basic underlying fact is that most people want choices.
They want to be able to meet their basic financial needs and then have the choice whether they want to spend more time with their grandchildren, volunteer at their local food bank, take a world cruise or just pick up a slightly more expensive bottle of wine with dinner.
Good financial planning helps people to have these choices and from my point of view, it starts with ensuring that people consider all their assets at retirement.
A financial adviser is not going to ignore half a million pounds sitting in a pension fund when discussing a client’s retirement finances, so why shouldn’t they ask how they intend to factor in their home in Cheshire?
This is particularly important for women – especially single ones – as housing equity may make up a larger proportion of their personal wealth.
This is reflected by the relatively high volume of single women using equity release (28 per cent) vs single men (15 per cent) and begs the question whether the advice industry is set up to support this growing demographic and deliver consistently good outcomes.
The reasons women use equity release are varied but are often linked to age.
Older age groups may be looking to make up income shortfall due to the loss of a spouse, while younger women may have held onto the family home during a divorce or have ploughed all their disposable income into getting on the property ladder to the detriment of their pension.