Women a growing market for Canadian financial advisers

Fri Feb 8, 2013 2:11pm EST
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian financial adviser Frances Summerhill has always felt a special connection with female clients, but her focus on serving women is about more than just rapport: she sees growth opportunities in their increasing wealth.

"More women are starting businesses than men right now, more are graduating from university ... and there will be a wealth transfer as women outlive their spouses. So women are going to be in control of a lot of money," said Summerhill, a veteran financial planner at Scotia Capital Inc (BNS.TO: Quote) in Sudbury, Ontario, 400 km north of Toronto.

While many women have long voiced dissatisfaction with the service they receive in a male-dominated financial industry, a shift in household decision-making and an aging population mean they are the fastest-growing market for financial advisers.

A 2012 study by Bank of Montreal's (BMO.TO: Quote) Nesbitt Burns full-service brokerage found 82 percent of Canadian women are either the primary decision-maker of have equal responsibility for household financial decisions.

Only 30 percent felt the financial services industry is serving them well, and one third said they believed they have different wealth management needs than men and should get different advice.

"Women represent an incredible growth opportunity and business development opportunity, so advisers ignore that market at their peril," said Susan Misner, who co-founded goldengirlsfinance.com and co-authored the book "It's Your Money, Honey: A Girl's Guide to Saving, Investing and Building Wealth at Every Age and Life Stage", in 2012.

Misner, a 20-year veteran of the wealth management industry, said financial advisers long focused on the male client, even when talking to a couple, believing women were less interested.

"That's why statistics show that upon the death of a spouse, 80 percent of women will switch advisers," Misner said.   Continued...