Financial advice must become a more appealing and rewarding career choice for women if it is to be relevant to all of society, the Chartered Institute Insurance (CII) has said today.
Speaking at the Protection Review conference in London this morning (12 July), Helen White, director of the insuring futures programme at the CII, said fundamental change in culture and practices was needed to “engage, educate and empower” women to build independent financial resilience.
Ms White said: "We need to address women’s needs and preferences as users of insurance and financial planning - women are less engaged with these services and find accessing products and services that suit them more difficult."
She attributed this gap partially to the lack of female financial advisers, stating that many women do not feel confident talking to a male adviser and therefore forego addressing financial planning altogether.
She said: “The way the sector communicates with women as potential customers and employees needs to change to be more successful in attracting and engaging.
“We need to respond to what younger generations want and expect from the products and the services they use.”
Ms White said the protection industry’s gender imbalance was key to securing the financial future of the next generation.
Meanwhile, James Daley, founder of Fairer Finance, who also spoke at the conference, identified the importance of ensuring protection products are relevant, simple and trustworthy in order to attract the younger generation.
Mr Daley said most millennials want to protect their independence in life but do not recognise protection policies as a means to achieving that.
He said: “You feel invincible in your early twenties having just left university with no need for life insurance, but of course you do want to protect your new found independence.
"The message we should be sending to the new generation entering financial services is to start engaging with financial services now, and it will protect your independence for the rest of your life - that should be the focus for this particular demographic.”
Mr Daley also emphasised the importance of protection must be conveyed to the whole population not just millennials, and to achieve this the message must be spread across more scenarios.
Mr Daley said this message cannot reach its full potential without the support of the government and he suggested support of income protection for all employees, not just those at big companies, could see savings to the benefits bill.
He said: “Protection is only ever relevant at those key moments in your life when you look around you and see someone else wobble or perhaps you have a big change in your life - protection is about being there at those moments to catch people.
“At the moment, the industry isn’t prevalent enough and I do not think overcoming that is something it can achieve on its own - the government has a really important part to play in that.”