With Australian women exhibiting much lower levels of financial literacy than their male counterparts and only one-third of females being taught about the benefits of long-term investing when they were young, it is clear more needs to be done to empower women to achieve financial wellbeing and independence.
Research has found that, while women play a large part in everyday financial decisions, they are less likely to be involved in planning, acquiring and managing long-term investments, with a staggering 85% of women under 35 who do not understand fundamental investment concepts.
Through her experience in the financial services industry, Laura Baker, a Senior Financial Planner for Commonwealth Financial Planning (CFP) based in Melbourne, has generally seen women taking less interest in their finances than men and, as a result, has become a strong advocate for empowering women to be more engaged with their financial wellbeing.
“As a female financial planner, I am passionate about helping women to understand and be empowered to make financial decisions that will meet their short and long term needs.
“My biggest concern is there has been a number of women I have met in the past 12 months that have gone through or are currently going through divorce, and have limited financial independence or knowledge,” Laura said.
Laura Baker, a Senior Financial Planner for Commonwealth Financial Planning (CFP) | Photo supplied.
Laura has seen women who do not know how to use a bank card, access internet banking, pay a bill, as well as not understanding details about their superannuation.
“I’ve heard ‘my husband always did it for me’ ‘I never had to worry about it before’ ‘I couldn't tell you what our mortgage balance was.’ This worries me,” she said.
Laura also observed that when female clients attend a session with a male partner, they lack confidence or are overwhelmed in the appointment, becoming quiet and less engaged.
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Laura’s experience is supported by recent research that reveals 41 per cent of Australian women find money decisions overwhelming and stressful. This low level of engagement in financial literacy is associated with a lower propensity to save regularly and a greater likelihood of experiencing financial stress.
Laura emphasises the importance of understanding the fundamentals of finance early on in life to enable everyone in society to reach their goals and obtain financial and career independence.
“It’s important for both females and males to gain a basic understanding of how to deal with everyday finances and the effective management of money at an early stage, to improve their overall life savings and financial independence.”
Using that knowledge in a career can also be the next step.
Laura has also found women who have a male financial adviser are more hesitant to discuss personal budgets, expenses and medical history.
“This is just one of the reasons why it’s important to have more female representation in the industry,” she said.
If you are looking for ways to boost your financial wellbeing, manage your day-to-day finances or plan for the unexpected, please go to the Financial Wellbeing Hub for more information.