Unique life challenges and barriers in the industry are getting in the way of women's financial independence
The Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) recently commissioned a survey looking at Canadian women’s continuing struggle for financial empowerment. Kelley Keehn, award-winning author, personal finance educator, and consumer advocate with the FPSC, weighs in with insights on what the survey results mean for women.
If the survey had also covered the general public, we’d probably also see this kind of gap among men. But I’d argue that financial literacy is particularly crucial to women who, on average, outlive men and are going to rely on retirement savings for so much longer. Certainly, the survey serves as a wake-up call for women to take the opportunity to increase their comfort levels when it comes to dealing with finances and investing.
And whether it’s a male or female across the desk from her, a lot of times the conversation revolves around MERs, stock performance, and things like that. Women, on the other hand, are generally more interested in what they can do with their money than how much they can make. And industry professionals often provide advice that looks at issues one at a time — “here’s your problem, here’s the solution” — which is not a good fit for most women, who want advice that holistically takes their unique circumstances into account.
And in my view, the financial professional in a woman’s life has to be like a physician; especially because of all the issues a woman juggles, they must be anticipatory of what she should be worried about. There has to be proactive advice on pitfalls that come with marriage, childbirth, new employment, and other significant events. We know we need to get medical checkups regularly, and I feel the industry can do more to define the life stages and milestones when financial advice is most needed.