A different approach

01 June 2018

Cropped photo of mixed group of people standing next to each other as they discuss gender needs

Jayson Forrest

Jayson Forrest is the managing editor of Money & Life Magazine.

Six practitioners respond to the following question: In what ways (if any) do the gender needs of your clients differ, and how are you responding to these needs?

Louise Lakomy CFP® LRS®

Director and Financial Planner, Crystal Wealth Partners

Licensee: Crystal Wealth Partners

The main difference between my male and female clients relates to their risk profile. Women are generally more conservative than men and less likely to take risks, especially when investing. I make sure I understand how they feel and ensure I educate them about the risk reward matrix and the time horizon they have for investing.

Woman are also more loyal and trusting once they have decided you are their planner. Once they have engaged you as their planner, they trust your judgement and are less likely to question why you are doing something.

However, this can sometimes be a problem, so I always make sure I speak in simple terms to all clients to ensure the main concepts are understood and that I have not lost them with technical jargon, which I try to avoid as much as possible.

Female clients can also lack a sense of self-worth when it comes to managing money. This is often the case with my older clients whose husbands have passed away.

I have found that for many older clients, it’s the husband who has always managed the couple’s finances, so when the husband dies, the female partner becomes nervous about what to do.

I try to encourage meetings that include both husband and wife at least once a year. The female partner may not be interested in finances but I try to engage her in the process and make her understand that it is important for her to understand the big picture, in case something happens to her husband or partner.

I find clients appreciate this approach, as it’s about helping clients as much as possible to learn about their finances.


James McFall CFP®

Managing Director, Yield Financial Planning

Licensee: Lifespan Financial Planning

The basic premise and need for advice doesn’t discriminate in my opinion. However, at Yield Financial Planning, there are some nuances that we consider when preparing and providing advice.

In my experience, what typically motivates people to seek financial planning advice can be categorised by the following drivers:

  1. Financial – seeking advice with tangible financial benefits.
  2. Academic – leveraging the knowledge and expertise of a planner that would otherwise need to be learnt.
  3. Practical – utilising someone to manage the ‘administration’ of finances.
  4. Security – wanting the peace of mind of a professional plan.

Whilst the above drivers are important to all my clients, I have found that typically my female clients prioritise ‘Security’ and my male clients ‘Financial’ first. Therefore, as a planner, it is important that we respond to our clients in a way that reflects their priorities.

Relationship is paramount to a successful financial partnership, regardless of gender, and we pride ourselves on delivering on this with our clients by listening to them, establishing what is important and providing advice that consistently reflects this understanding.

We are fortunate to work with a lot of independent single women nearing or in retirement and their needs may differ, particularly when they have left the financial planning to their partners in the past.

For these women, collaboration and education are even more important to help navigate successful financial decision-making, and this in turn provides confidence, peace of mind and empowerment. A primary benefit of all good financial advice.


Roxanne Gorman CFP®

Adviser, Commonwealth Private

Licensee: Commonwealth Bank of Australia

During my years of working with both male and female clients in guiding them with their finances, I have noticed some distinct areas of interest when it comes to the management of their portfolios.

Male clients are generally more concerned with the technical aspects of the strategies and performance of their portfolio, whereas females are more concerned with the overarching strategy of their portfolio and what the portfolio actually enables.

For female clients it’s about the bigger picture, the family and understanding the long-term intent. Theses aspects are actually interconnected but it largely comes through in the nature of the conversations.

I encourage my client couples to ensure both partners attend client meetings and that each person is actively involved in decisions. I establish this at the outset of the relationship, so behaviours are established upfront. It’s important for both partners to be engaged; this is how interest and understanding is fostered.

I do feel that being a female adviser enables me to establish a certain level of comfort and openness with my female clients. I find women are more likely to open up and share details about their broader family circumstances.

At a personal level, I am passionate about enabling women to be financially independent. I have two daughters in their early 20s whom I continually encourage to be financially aware. I constantly talk about the need to be economically and financially empowered – this is the ‘enabler’ for other aspects and stages of life.

Being a female adviser gives me a platform to enable female clients to feel comfortable in discussing their financial matters, and to talk openly and honestly around what is important to them. I feel very proud and privileged to be in a position where I can respond to such needs and have a positive impact.


Ian Gibson AFP®

Senior Financial Planner, StrategyOne Advice Network

Licensee: Fitzpatricks Private Wealth

The following are the key concerns of different age groups, split up by gender, that planners need to consider in their advice strategies.

Group 1: Age 30-45 years


An immediate awareness of the need to protect the family. However, they tend to only focus on the male income and tend to have a ‘blind spot’ when considering their own cover.

In most cases, the personal financial cost of starting a family is recognised.

There is a display of nervousness generated by a lack of financial matter knowledge.

They fail to take ownership of their super.

They see their parents struggling with trying to maintain their lifestyle later in life.


High emphasis on establishing their working career and earning capacity.

Too distracted to consider short-term protection of their family’s financial wellbeing.

Group 2: Age 45-60 years


Awareness of wage disparity and the lower level of personal earnings/savings whilst raising the family.

Retirement is considered but personal and financial changes are not understood.

The female often looks after aged parents.

Separation/divorce is a serious issue in this age bracket, requiring a possible adjustment to a less favourable lifestyle.

Concerns if they or their partner cannot continue work through loss of employment or illness.


Need to protect the other party in the relationship as without them, their career and earning capacity would be greatly reduced.

Separation/divorce is a serious issue.

Group 3: Age 60-80 years


Financial position may deteriorate through their partner’s health/employment issues.

Knowledge of financial situation and plans for financial support becomes a priority.


Need to address lack of planning, as things may not be working out as imagined, such as not enough money saved to maintain desired lifestyle.

Cath Sharples-Rushbrooke CFP®

Manager, Advice Services Australia

Licensee: Advice Services Australia

We deal with many clients planning their retirement or in the process of retiring. We assist them with planning and structuring their finances.

Regardless of their employment structure, whether they have a partner or caring responsibilities, we find that many clients want the same thing from us: the confidence to know that they are financially okay.

They want a professional who is truly in their corner. Somebody who understands the ‘ins and outs’ of legislation and who is experienced in dealing with financial matters.

Clients are looking for a professional who takes the time to ensure their clients understand and are comfortable with their recommendations, and who provides unbiased financial education.

They want a professional who takes the time to understand what their clients truly want from their life and then help them to use money as wisely as possible to make that happen.

In fact, money is one part of a much bigger puzzle.

Women, in particular, really understand opportunity cost. We understand that sometimes people need to make decisions that don’t make the most financial sense but make the most life sense for themselves and others. That’s an important consideration that planners need to be aware of.

More and more, we are seeing women (and men) taking an active interest and responsibility in managing their finances.

This is great, as we find that those who have taken an active interest and responsibility for managing their finances (with the help of a qualified professional), feel more confident and secure throughout their working life, as well as in retirement.


Donal Griffin CFP®

Director, Legacy Law

We view ourselves as a part of a family’s wealth team and prefer to meet clients with their financial adviser. While I am a qualified CFP®, I do not provide financial advice now but have previously seen the dynamics of women in the financial decision-making process.

For estate planning or family law, we draw family trees all the time and matriarch’s have a large role, usually the lioness and sometimes the keeper of the peace. They are often the most sensitive to the family dynamics and the relationships involved.

When talking with a couple about family, we know that the female (if it’s not a same-sex male couple) often has an unofficial casting vote. In our experience, females are more focused on protection of the capital than the income.

Guardianship is a top priority for clients with young children, and the woman is often the client who enthusiastically completes the ‘user’s manual’ we provide for guardians of their children, so they truly understand the needs of their kids.

We also notice a difference in blended families, where couples in second relationships have kids from previous relationships. In these situations, we notice that the women are even more influential in decision-making, as they may be the ones that try to bring, and keep, the entire family together for important occasions.

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