4 disconnects between advisers and their female clients

Posted 24 June 2024 by Gillian Hepburn

Recent research conducted by Schroders and Ad Lucem* has identified four disconnects between advisers and their female clients.

Additional research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research in 2005 suggested that by 2025, women would control 60% of the UK's wealth. This would largely be due to wealth transfer within the baby boomer generation, typically from male spouses or partners to females. While this research was conducted some time ago and the prediction remains unproven, HMRC data for 2020/2021 shows that of the £15.7bn of estates that transferred to a single partner, 73% went to women, lending credibility to the theory.

So why should advisers take note? Here are the key disconnects to consider:

1. Retention: In the survey of 200 women, only 34% said that they would remain with the family adviser post death of a spouse or on divorce. However, advisers expected 62% of these women to remain. For advisers planning to exit businesses and maximise valuations, losing wealth as it transfers could undermine their strategy.

2. Satisfaction: Are women satisfied with the service from their adviser? It's crucial to understand which services female clients value and assess their satisfaction levels. Unsurprisingly, women in the survey valued trust, peace of mind, goal delivery, and discussions about both financial and non-financial needs. These align with advisers' views on what their female clients value. However, advisers’ perception of how dissatisfied their female clients are with each element of their service differs widely from what their female clients report:


% female client with some level of dissatisfaction

Adviser estimates of % dissatisfied female clients




Value for money



Delivery on goals



Understanding financial and non-financial goals



This indicates that there are some challenging gaps to close and advisers should consider strategies to achieve this. It was also interesting to note that when women expressed what their non-financial goals were, they were often related to financial capability: travel more, spend time with family and leisure activities.

3. Involvement: Some of our past research indicated that women were disengaged and not involved with the process of financial planning pre-widowhood**. Interestingly, they blamed both their partners for excluding them and advisers for not engaging them. Our research suggests that they may be right to hold this view. 45% of advisers said their primary contact was with the male partner, only 22% said that both partners were always present at meetings, and less than half said that their professional relationship was equal with both partners. 66% of advisers also said that it was difficult to some extent to engage with both partners.

Why is it difficult to engage both partners? Perhaps the next disconnect might partly explain this.

4. Financial requirements: Women have different financial needs. When asked about product requirements only 46% of women felt adequately protected for sickness (primarily through private health provision) but over 60% of advisers thought their female clients were. The same applied to critical illness coverage.

Interestingly, only 9% of females said that they would be at a loss to manage their finances if their partner died while 29% of advisers thought they would be. This suggests a need for better engagement on this sensitive topic.

Advisers might consider engaging with partners individually, based on their unique planning requirements. For instance, women outnumber men in care homes by a ratio of 3:1 and typically stay more than four times as long. Anyone who has witnessed a family member moving into care knows it can be an emotionally challenging time, and navigating the financial implications can be equally daunting.

On a brighter note, while many women are not staying with their financial advisers, the women in our survey offered some advice on what could dissuade them from moving. They expressed a desire for advisers to 'understand me more,' 'deliver proactive communications' (tailored to their needs), and 'listen more.' This seems quite manageable. Interestingly, the majority of female clients (76%) stated that the gender of their adviser was not important, which is fortunate given that only 16% of advisers are female according to FCA data.

For the 70% of advisers who are actively seeking more female clients or plan to do so, understanding these points could be beneficial. In conclusion, the potential loss of female clients poses a challenge for some advisers but also an opportunity for others.

*Women and financial advice: The future is female (but the financial advice sector missed the memo), February 2024. Schroders/Ad Lucem/Technical Connection.

**Female clients and the transfer of Wealth’ Eliza Filby/Schroders.

Important information

Marketing material for professional clients only, not for onward distribution. The material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, accounting, legal or tax advice, or investment recommendations. Reliance should not be placed on any views or information in the material when taking individual investment and/or strategic decisions. Past performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated. The value of investments and the income from them may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amounts originally invested. The views and opinions contained herein are those of the author and may not necessarily represent views expressed or reflected in other Schroders communications, strategies or funds. Information herein is believed to be reliable but Schroders does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. Schroders will be a data controller in respect of your personal data. For information on how Schroders might process your personal data, please view our Privacy Policy available at www.schroders.com/en/privacy-policy/ or on request should you not have access to this webpage. For your security, communications may be recorded or monitored. Issued in May 2024 by Schroder Investment Management Limited, 1 London Wall Place, London EC2Y 5AU. Registration No. 1893220 England. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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Gillian Hepburn

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Gillian Hepburn