finance

'The biggest mistake Australian millennial women are making.'

As a kid, I knew I was in big trouble when I heard my mum say the six scariest words on the planet, “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.” Ouch. Even hurts to write it.

Which is why it pains me to say;

Millennial women; I’m not mad, I’m just REALLY disappointed.

You would think that after watching your mothers (or your mum’s friends) going through divorce and struggling to sticky tape the torn pieces of their financial lives back together, you’d have learned that ceding financial decision-making to your husbands is a bad idea. Very bad. Catastrophic even.

But it seems you haven’t learned that. In fact, you’re giving up your financial independence in numbers unseen since the 50s. 61% of partnered millennial women want their partners to take the reins when it comes to the finances. Ai yi yi.

You are not less capable with numbers (no matter what Adam Clarke said in grade six), nor are you less capable of understanding financial concepts. You just lack some confidence. In fact, only 47% of women say they’re confident talking about money and investments. And that is where a licenced financial planner might come in handy. Except…. Therein lies another problem….

In Australia, only 16% of licenced financial planners are women. That’s almost as bad as the gender mix in engineering, one of the blokiest of professions. Ouch.

And if you’re after financial advice and are already lacking a little in confidence (but NOT in ability) then coming up against that wall of men might be more than you can cope with.

Even if you go as a couple to the (likely) male financial planner, there is a strong possibility that he’ll address all his remarks to your partner – much like the car salesman at two different dealerships did when my husband and I went shopping for a new car. Suffice it to say, the third dealership was the one we did business with– where the salesman actually spoke to us both before quickly realising that he was negotiating with me (I’m Italian – I have a gold medal in haggling).

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But I digress… women don’t want to be excluded from the conversation like they’re a child brought along for the appointment. According to Kerry Hannon, author and financial guru, women have demands for an adviser that are different than men – and many of the male financial planners just don’t get that. And boy will they be the ones missing out. If a cafe catered for less than half of the population there is no way they’d be profitable. Yet it seems that is what the financial planning sector is doing. Big mistake. Big. HUGE.

Millennials are the first generation of Australian workers who have spent their whole working lives under the government’s superannuation guarantee. This means they have money to invest and will need great advice on how to maximise it for their retirement (as well as the myriad other nuggets of financial wisdom they will seek over the years). There is a significant opportunity for financial advisers to cater for an untapped market and reap the benefits.

Women don’t necessarily want a female adviser (though increasing the numbers of women who choose financial planning for a career will give them greater choice) but they want an authentic relationship where the adviser actually wants to understand their personal circumstances and tailors their advice to those. Someone who keeps them informed but doesn’t patronise or condescend. Mansplainers absolutely need not apply.

These Millennial women are graduating from university in greater numbers than their male peers and are entering higher-paid careers than in previous generations. They’re also probably not going to be able to rely on there being an age pension to fall back on. They’ll have incomes and investments they will need to manage. Not to mention the inheritances that will flow when the Baby Boomers (*cough* dinosaurs *cough*) are no longer with us.

It’s simple really. If we want more Australian’s to be planning their financial futures, we need more advisers who are female.

With the new regulations for licensing of financial planners coming into effect in January 2019, a lot of the older generation of planners (AKA the stale pale males…) will retire rather than upgrade their qualifications. Now is the time for women to start a revolution in finance and give women greater choice when it comes to how they manage their money.

And when the revolution comes, I look forward to saying;

Millennial women – I’m so proud of you.

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