In a post-covid world, can financial advice be a force for good in promoting improved economic outcomes for women?
With International Women’s Day on 8 March and the return to school for millions of children across the country, this week was a big one for many UK women.
But don’t sound the celebratory trumpet just yet. Because while there is light at the end of a seemingly interminable tunnel, after a year of combining home school, home working and everything in between, many women worldwide are simply exhausted, with dwindling finances to boot.
And while women don’t own the monopoly on pandemic-induced fatigue, when you look at the facts, it’s clear that we have a hefty amount of skin in the game.
Research from UN Women revealed that 25 years of progress towards gender equality could be completely wiped out in a year,as women absorb the lion’s share of domestic chores and family care on top of paid employment responsibilities.
Even before the pandemic, it was estimated women were doing about three quarters of the 16 billion hours of unpaid work that are done each day around the world.
On childcare, the UK boasts the undesirable title of having the most expensive system in the world, making it financially unviable for many mothers to return to the workplace. For contrast see Sweden where childcare is heavily state subsidised and costs parents on average up to 3 per cent of household income instead of the UK’s average of a whopping 35%.
Despite this, provision for more accessible childcare was excluded from the Spring budget announcement on 3 March, a decision that could cost some women dear: according to research by Pregnant Then Screwed, 46 per cent of mothers being made redundant said that lack of childcare was a factor in their selection for redundancy while 72 per cent said they worked fewer hours and cut their earnings due to lack of childcare.
The devastating consequences of this for women’s overall economic progress and independence are undeniable.
Well we’ve already seen what happens when women’s finances are made a secondary consideration at a governmental level at least, with the recent discovery of the millions of women whose state pension entitlement hadbeen reduced in error, to the tune of more than £3bn.
So how can financial advice help?
Later life planning
But there is reason to be hopeful: with later life planning, one of the number one areas many advisers provide vital support for their clients, and against the backdrop of a complex state pension system coupled with huge uncertainty around whether private pension contributions are sufficient, this is an obvious area of real value.
A lifestyle based approach
With growing interest in holistic financial planning for clients, the combination of a lifestyle based approach towards achieving broader vision-based client objectives plus a practical focus on establishing a solid financial roadmap to deliver results could be a game changer.