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Advisers urged to engage with clients' spouses

Advisers urged to engage with clients' spouses
 

Advisers should be more proactive in engaging with their clients' spouses, a conference has heard.

On a panel at FundForum UK last month (November 30), Gillian Hepburn, head of UK intermediary solutions at Schroders, said advisers were not making enough effort to engage the whole family, with women in particular missing out .

She cited Schroders’ own data, which has found just 7 per cent of advisers have a strategy involving a client’s partner and the transfer of wealth in the event of their death.

The research also suggested a female adviser doesn’t fix the problem either, pointing to a more systemic issue within the advice industry.

“60 per cent of wealth in the UK by 2025 - not that far away - will be in the hands of women,” said Hepburn. 

Women told Schroders during its research that “they don’t want to be seen as an appendage to somebody else”, suggesting some were reluctant to engage with a financial plan which isn’t designed for them.

And whilst Hepburn acknowledged some advisers are trying to overcome this, she said “time and time again” the majority simply don’t. “And so they [women] walk away.”

Shah Mir, a chartered financial planner at Tilney, said women “have taken a backseat”, leaving the understanding of their finances to their partners.

“I’ve dealt with men where their wife has said ‘oh, he deals with the finances’. They’ve said that themselves,” said Mir.

“If my wife told me ‘I have a financial adviser, but I’m not worried about my money’, I’d tell her ‘you need to deal with your finances, because when I’m not around, how will you know what to do?’

“I think ladies have taken a backseat in the way they handle their finances, leaving it for the men to pick up. [..] Ladies, if you can take one thing away from this, it’s ‘take ownership’. We want to speak to you.”

Mir referenced one client who passed away. His wife rang him asking ‘Do I have enough money to live?’, to which Mir replied after running a cash flow check: ‘You have enough money for the rest of your life, twice.’

The CFP said he makes a point of trying to build a relationship with his clients’ spouses from the point of marriage onwards.

But Verona Kenny, head of intermediary for Seven Investment Management, reckons the narrative is "absolute changing" around women and wealth.

"We shouldn't stereotype women as working at home with no income and no-one wants to talk her," said Kenny. "We need to talk in terms of the family unit. And you know, men stay at home too."

ruby.hinchliffe@ft.com