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Divorce rate pushes women to seek advice

Greater numbers of UK women are seeking financial advice due to increasing rates of divorce and the rise of female entrepreneurs, but the industry still lacks diversity and is struggling to attract female IFAs.

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Research from Investec Wealth Management found that women accounted for 40% of IFA clients in 2012, but 47% of new clients gained over the past two years were female.

Half of the 101 advisers surveyed said the main driver behind the increase in female clients is divorce.

This was followed by the death of their spouse (35%), an increase in women taking more control of their financial circumstances (26%), and greater success in business (19%).

Financial equality

The research also highlighted a trend of partners taking equal responsibility for managing the adviser relationship.

In 2012, advisers estimated that under a quarter of joint clients involved both partners taking equal responsibility compared to 27% today.

By 2022, advisers predict this could rise to 35%.

Industry lacking diversity

Despite the increasing number of female clients, on average, IFAs estimated that only 11% of their advisers are female and almost half 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.

Male bias

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,” Stevens said.

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