New industry project Yes She Can has looked at how companies outside financial services engage with women in a bid to apply this to advice and investment more broadly.

An advice gap can exist even for women working within financial services, and the industry does not know what drives women to become investors or seek advice.

These were comments made at this morning’s Yes She Can launch. Comprising Aberdeen Standard Investments, EY, HSBC Asset Management UK, Royal London Group, Scottish Widows, St James’s Place (SJP), Vitality and the Wisdom Council, Yes She Can is an industry project that looks at successful ways to engage female investors.

Although women often make the majority of household and purchasing decisions, this is not translating into long-term saving or investment engagement, speakers at the launch commented.

‘We are not putting investment on women’s radars,’ David Holton, associate partner at EY, said at this morning’s event.

SJP director of marketing Claire Blackwell said being proactive about turning research findings, such as how women prefer to be engaged with, into work plans, is key to making advice more accessible.

For example, as a result of running workshops with 21-50-year-olds around the country, Yes She Can found companies outside financial services are best at engaging women when their messaging comes from women who are similar to the consumers, or it is being shared within the women's social circles.

‘We obviously don’t get what motivates women or we wouldn’t see some of the gender pensions gap issues,’ Blackwell said. ‘But I think it's an unconscious lack of awareness, partly because it's driven by the diversity problem in our industry. People talk to people like them and as we start to address that issue awareness is coming into our services and how we make ourselves more accessible.’

In line with findings that women are more likely to save into things like cash ISAs, Blackwell said: ‘When we look at our client bank we have equal numbers of women and men, but if you look at some of the wrappers they are in, it is equal in ISAs, but in our pensions wrapper we have around 66% men.’

She added financial education, and making sure advisers use the right tone and language, is also essential.

Hilary Banks, regional sales director at Vitality, agreed that as more women become breadwinners, but men still dominate the advice profession, advisers need to be ‘equipped with the right skills’.

Blackwell has personal motivations for being involved with Yes She Can.

‘I only came to SJP just over a year ago and before that I had worked in the City for 25 years,’ she said. ‘When I got there I realised I had a huge advice gap despite my career. It was when I moved to a financial adviser I realised I hadn't been taking advice.

‘I'm the sole breadwinner, I'm a mother, a daughter, I've got great colleagues and friends, yet no one is having these conversations around me. No one is saying you've got a mortgage and a pension but that's probably not enough and you should probably get some advice. So I was fascinated that within our community there are people who don't really understand these issues and certainly we're not taking that conversation outside.’

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Article written by Natasha Turner, New Model Adviser Magazine.

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