Measures to encourage gender diversity in the advice industry must be fast-tracked to help close the gender retirement income gap.
In a policy debate hosted by the Equity Release Council and Key, industry figures highlighted a need for more female advisers in a ‘male-dominated’ profession to reflect the diversity of clients.
Donna Bathgate, chief operating officer at the Equity Release Council, said: “Increasing the proportion of female financial advisers can help to provide more nuanced advice specifically aimed at helping women maximise their financial resources in later life.
"There are many divergences between male and female financial experiences. Providing targeted advice that gives greater consideration to women’s financial position is an important step to help narrow the retirement income gap."
According to Yvonne Braun, director of policy, long term savings and protection at the ABI, a profession where men “vastly outnumber” women would find it harder to engage with female customers.
Data for 2020 from Key showed a quarter (26 per cent) of equity release clients were single women, compared to 14 per cent of single men.
Chief executive officer, Will Hale, said: “There is a huge opportunity in this market to engage women. Our client base is diverse, so the advice provision needs to reflect that.
“There are not enough female advisers in the industry and we need to address these imbalances by accelerating the focus on recruiting and training more female advisers.”
It comes after analysis by Barnett Waddingham found women's pension pots were between 25 per cent and 45 per cent smaller than men's as they are saving less.
Research among 3,415 homeowners from the Equity Release Council in September found a quarter (24 per cent) of women over 55 said they would not know where to seek extra retirement income if needed, compared to 15 per cent of men.
Since March 2016 the Treasury has worked with financial services firms in a bid to improve gender balance across the industry through its Women in Finance Charter.
The annual review of the Charter for 2020 found more than 70 per cent of signatories had met or were on track to meet their targets, with missed targets primarily due to Covid-related recruitment and promotion freezes.
The FTAdviser Diversity In Finance Awards 2021 are now open for submissions, from individuals and companies who can demonstrate they have gone the extra mile in 2020 to improve diversity and inclusion and make their businesses better for clients, staff and the wider community.
For more information on the categories visit: FTAdviser Diversity In Finance Awards 2021.