More women are seeking financial advice due to increasing rates of divorce and the rise of female entrepreneurs, according to a new study by Investec Wealth & Investment. The research among intermediaries found that women accounted for two-fifths (40%) of IFA clients in 2012 but 47% of new clients gained over the past two years.
Over a quarter (26%) of advisers said one of the main drivers behind the increase in female clients is that they are taking more control of their financial circumstances; a fifth (19%) cited the growth of women succeeding in business. However, the biggest factors are divorce (51%) and the death of their spouse (35%).
The research also highlighted a clear trend among joint clients towards taking equal responsibility for managing the adviser relationship; in 2012 advisers estimated that under a quarter (23%) of joint clients involved both partners taking equal responsibility compared to 27% today. By 2022 advisers predict this could rise to 35%.
Despite the increasing number of female clients, on average, IFAs estimated that only 11% of their advisers were currently female and almost half (47%) of firms have no female advisers. Just 5% of firms said they were looking to encourage greater gender diversity among their advisers in order to attract a greater number of female staff.
Mark Stevens, Head of Intermediary Services at Investec Wealth & Investment, said:
"The research suggests that women are getting more involved in their financial affairs. Women are of growing importance to IFAs and we can expect to see their client bases continue moving away from a male bias towards a balanced gender split.
"It's also encouraging to see that increasing numbers of couples are taking joint responsibility for managing the relationship with their adviser. Men have tended to take this role among older generations but fortunately this is showing clear signs of change. It has to be in the clients' best interests for both partners to be equally involved in this key relationship.
"Given the growing importance of women as clients, surprisingly few firms are currently taking steps to encourage greater gender diversity among their advisers but this may start to gather momentum over the coming years as the industry evolves."