This month we’ve invited colleague and recently elected President of the Personal Finance Society, Adam Owen to contribute to our news insights. In this article, Adam takes a hard look at the factors influencing the financial outcomes of young women and considers what can be done to counter our societal biases.
Today, more men and women are employed than ever before and, in the future, we can expect to work longer. Many jobs are set to become automated and new roles will open up, with independent working increasing, and employment practices more flexible. As the financial burden of higher education rises, the young and especially women who traditionally work in lower paid roles, will increasingly need to weigh up the career and earnings prospects of their education options.
Recent research from the Chartered Insurance Institute has identified three key moments in young women’s lives that are pivotal. The decisions that are made in these ‘moments that matter’ can shape financial futures, and financial planning throughout life is the key to combating the inherent biases that are embedded in our decision making from an early age.
Growing up and re-qualifying
This moment reflects on education and learning and how decisions relating to gaining and financing qualifications can determine long-term financial prospects. More young women enter higher education than young men but this doesn’t translate to the job roles that they take when entering the workplace, with female graduates tending to enter lower paid jobs than their male counterparts. Enhancing awareness of the risks and rewards of educational and vocational choices, and developing financial capability early in life, enables more informed decision making and supports future economic independence.
Entering the workplace
Research suggests that the gender pay gap will not close until at least 2050 and women will work longer and have children later in life. In addition, women make up the majority of administrative and secretarial employees which are at a higher risk of being made redundant through automation. Alternative job roles, traditionally taken by women, are amongst the lowest paid in the economy. There is a critical need to address gender stereotyping and to secure economic empowerment and financial independence. Assisting women with their financial planning when they enter work and ensuring access to suitable savings and protection solutions supports financial independence and equips women to develop patterns of savings and financial resilience in later life.
The average age for getting married is rising and there are increasing numbers of women not living in a couple or cohabiting in their early adulthood. Additionally, divorce and separation is a key risk for women who have lower earnings and financial assets than their partners. Encouraging financial independence and equality at home and raising awareness of the implications of difference in relationship status can support women to be more resilient.
There is clear evidence that from a very early age, boys and girls are conditioned very differently and the biases that are created have far reaching implications throughout life. Changing cultural attitudes is important but takes a long time so intervention in the form of quality financial planning can go some way to making a real difference on an individual level.
Managing Partner at FPC, Moira O’Shaughnessy comments:
We are working with local schools to raise awareness of financial planning as a career choice but Adam reminds me of the need to do more to reach out to youngsters who do not have access to financial planning support.
We are committed to engaging with the next generation to introduce financial planning at an early age. We recognise that not only do we need to help them take control and shape their own financial future – we also need to prepare them for the responsibility that comes with family wealth.