It is said that money may not be the most important thing in our life, but it is definitely quite quintessential. Handling Finance is an art, and those who master it, go a long way.
Some have it within; they follow some golden rules of mastering finances at their tips. Others turn their heads to professionals, specifically financial advisors. On one hand, there are people who seek financial advice as soon as they start earning. On the other hand, some keep waiting for a hurricane in their professional lives.
My husband and I, like normal lazy people, fell in the latter category. When we did set up an appointment with a financial advisor, it was indeed an eye-opener for us. You will be surprised to know that after the initial introduction, none of his advice was directed to me. All the remarks were addressed to my husband. I was angry and I felt insulted.
It was then, that I made a decision to not leave a single rupee under his care. I have abided by my decision till today.
Now, when I come across women at work, marketplace, or whenever I’m out for a stroll, they mainly discuss their woes of not being able to handle money on their own. Moreover, they are not confident about hunting the right advisor among the pool of advisors. It is not a coincidence that these women are mostly in their 50s or more. However, what I’m going to discuss holds true for women of all ages, professions and geographies.
Women have demands for an advisor that are different than men and many financial pros more often than not don’t get that.
In a nutshell, we (them and I) have put together these seven points that would give the answer to the question put forth, to a great extent:-
1. Women need no special treatment by the advisors:
We’re females, so what? India is already paving its way towards gender equality, advisors should contribute to it. Women want advisors who treat them as individuals with unique needs. Not only do they have different wants and needs, they have different levels of financial knowledge, expertise and comfort. One size definitely does not fit all.
Girly approaches are a big NO as well. It is difficult for women to build a firm and authentic plan with their financial advisors. They look forward to a financial plan that helps them dodge their unique situation. For women over 50, reassurance that they will not run out of money or be a burden on their families is critically important, the reason being obvious.
2. A demand for increasing the number of female advisors.
Most women prefer working with a female advisor. They feel it’s just more comfortable. But only 23% of financial advisors in India are women, so finding one is not a walk in the park.
3.We always want to know the fees first.
The fees matters to women, a lot. They want to know how much an advisor charges before they actually begin the process. They also want to be certain the advisor is a fiduciary, which means he/she puts your interests first.
However, it is no secret how talking about money is still a taboo in our country. Hence, some women find it hard to ask about money. They forget that it’s them who’re hiring the advisor, and asking the pay is their basic right.
4. The men should realise that women are not stupid!
Come on, they are planning to handle the whole of finances and you assume them to be vacuous just because they didn’t know one simple financial term?
Most women want to build a relationship with an advisor who can educate and inform them without being condescending. They want someone they can relate to, and even prefer asking friends over advisors for financial advice. The sole reason for this is being comfortable in clearing their doubts asking all sorts of questions.
They’re looking for ballast, not a bull charging into someone’s financial life.
5. A big YES to trustworthy people.
Women need someone they can comfortably vent out in. We all know the vast difference between the lives of a man and a woman, hence they have different stories.
Women in India pursue their careers while juggling family responsibilities such as caring for their children, parents or spouses. Compared to the average man, the average woman spends 57% more time out of the workforce and 36% longer in retirement while living five years longer, according to estimates.
It is crucial for women to feel a sense of connection as well as to feel comfortable asking any question to their advisor.
6. Look for a holistic approach
Women today want goals-based planning, not investment management-centric planning.
For the overall security, it is necessary to find an advisor who isn’t only focused on the family’s assets, but also understands your family, your caregiving demands, your career, your money goals (which might be different than your partner’s) and your risk tolerance.
An advisor should provide full financial planning services, not just investment planning and a retirement plan. Risk management, health care costs and estate planning should be discussed, and a plan should be created.
You have to invest your hard-earned money into all the sectors, so why not plan it all out and play it safe?
7. You and your partner can/cannot have the same advisor.
You can have a mutual financial advisor, but you should definitely take care that both of you get your requirements satisfied. She/he should treat you two as two different clients with different wants.
I use the same advisor as my husband, and that works well for me. She meets with him and me both separately and together and understands that we have a seven-year age gap, as well as different retirement goals and spending habits. She helps us communicate about these issues, so we’re on the same page and rightly lets us have different investment strategies that are age-appropriate.
But, what works for one might not work for another! Being a woman, one may approach the money in a dissimilar way. That should not be a problem. A financial advisor should always value you as a decision maker in your family finances.
The author of this article is Neha Mitroo.