I discuss with Andrew Robertson on ABC TV why financial services is geared towards men.
Transcript of our interview
Andrew Robertson: Women are increasingly playing a more dominant role in the finances of Australian households. Whether they’re married, single or divorced, more and more women are now in a highly paid jobs. But despite their enhanced financial status, many women feel the financial services sector like many other sectors is still geared to men. One of those women is Sydney based financial planner, Claire Mackay. Claire, when you say, “the financial sector is still geared towards men”, what do you mean by that?
Independent financial planner, Claire Mackay: I think it’s a recognition that the industry still needs to go a long way to better communicate with over half the population. The number of times I’m hearing women say, “The language just doesn’t appeal to them.” or they just don’t get it or they’re spoken to as if they’re never going to get it. It’s not good enough given that women are controlling more finance, they’re making decision both within their family and also independently. The industry needs to really recognize how they communicate with half their clients.
Andrew Robertson: What does it say about the industry that that still happens?
Independent financial planner, Claire Mackay: Well, I would like to think that we each all talk to our clients individually and take into account their knowledge and background and help them better understand their finances. But too many times, sitting over lunch or at drinks after work, I’m hearing very successful professional women complaining, that questions are directed to their husbands or they are not treated with the same respect that their husband is, notwithstanding that they’re bringing in half or even more than the family income.
Andrew Robertson: Do women need to be more assertive and when you are in a bank or with a financial advisor or someone like that? Just make the point that actually I provide a lot of the money here, talk to me.
Independent financial planner, Claire Mackay: Absolutely. I’ve got a client in the 70s and she is very conscious about asking those questions because she’s also very conscious that the husband may not be around later. But certainly, when dealing with a financial advisor or with any financial institution, making sure you understand what they’re telling you so that you can make very informed decisions. It’s not good enough to be told, “You don’t need to be know.”
Andrew Robertson: And just following on from that, what are women missing out on because of that attitude?
Independent financial planner, Claire Mackay: Well, I think the whole idea of better understanding of finances, is having confidence about your future. And if you actually don’t understand the discussion and you’re being asked to make decisions, A, how can you make that decision? And B, how do you have confidence that that’s gonna be the right thing for you going forward? So piece of mind about your finances and confidence so that you gonna hit your goals, reach your retirement, have the lifestyle that you dream of. All of those things are predicated on understanding your finances and understanding the decisions you’re making.
Andrew Robertson: What needs to happen for women to feel that they are getting a fair go from the financial services sector?
Independent financial planner, Claire Mackay: Well, it’s a combination of things. Certainly, consumer demand. Demanding of institutions you deal with, demanding of your advisor and asking the questions and being prepared to keep asking the same question until you get an answer you actually understand. Secondly, the institutions slowly are recognising that they need to do a bit more. So certain large industry super funds have got better websites with better information available. ASIC have recently has come out with their moneysmart.gov.au website an overlay that helps women to access information better which is great. So it’s a combination of things. The key thing is everyone, men or women need to better understand their finances and it’s a combination of promoting it yourself and asking more of your institutions.
Andrew Robertson: Claire Mackay thank you very much for your time.
Independent financial planner, Claire Mackay: Thanks Andrew.
Andrew Robertson: Well, that’s all for this chilly edition of the finance quarter. As always if you’d like to see any part of the program again, you can find us on the ABC News website. Just go to the business page and click on the Finance Quarter icon. Thank you for watching and we’ll see you next time on the Finance Quarter.