The financial gender gap.
This may come as a surprise to many women, but there is a profound gender gap in financial literacy across OECD countries, including New Zealand.
Gender disparities in financial literacy compound women’s difficulties in securing their financial future and well-being and in participating confidently in financial activities. We can (and need to) do better to ensure women are financially literate from a young age. (Source: www.oecd.org)
Financial Adviser Shiree Hembrow is aware of this gender gap from her 25 years of working in the financial planning advice world. “Since I have been giving financial advice, I have noticed that few women I meet are fully engaged in their finances or in planning for their lives after work, mostly leaving it up to their husbands/partners or no-one,” she says.
Taking an active and collaborative role in managing household finances empowers women and helps protect them for the future. “At a very extreme level not getting involved in household finances can amount to serious neglect and have implications for a woman’s future. Outlined recently on RNZ’s Nine to Noon programme by the CEO of Auckland’s Aged Care, was the case of a 72-year-old woman, who accepted help from her daughter in dealing with her finances after separating from her husband as she had never been involved with their finances during their marriage. The daughter tricked her mother into signing her home over to her thereby literally stealing her mother’s house through deception.”
Shiree says educating women about the financial side of life is her true passion. Financial independence is within every woman’s grasp” she explains. Shiree can help clients with all aspects of wealth management and financial planning – from budgeting to investing to estate planning. “Statistically women live longer than men and earn less. This means women require more money saved for what is likely to be a longer retirement. Women over 50 need reassurance they will not run out of money or be a burden on their families. This is extremely important for widowed or divorced women, a situation that can hit you at any time of life”.
A written personal financial plan from an independent third party such as a financial adviser helps women, either single or in a relationship, to map out what they want to achieve in their life. They can take an equal and active role in decisions around shared and independent finances.
“The benefits of a plan apply regardless of the size of a woman’s salary or wealth. Evidence shows that once women are empowered around money, they become hugely useful to themselves and others around them. I do believe more and more women are taking an interest in their finances – but there is still a way to go.”
This article was published in Metropol magazine on 7 July 2021.