Female financial advice clients aren't getting the support they need from financial advisers, putting client books at risk.
Appearing at the Sydney leg of the Association of Financial Advisers' National Roadshow yesterday, financial adviser and 2018 AFA Female Excellence in Advice Award winner Donna Lee Powell shared how personal tragedy changed her professional attitude.
Powell estimates advisers are losing up to 80% of their female clients after their partners die.
"I know because they come to me after they've left the adviser they were with for years when their partner was alive," she said.
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"With women living longer than men, you can't afford to be losing all these clients. You can't afford not to connect with women."
Powell's husband died while swimming the Busselton Ironman five years ago, as she and their children watched on the beach.
Instead of finding compassion after the tragedy, Powell was forced to re-live the experience as she battled insurance companies, lawyers, Centrelink and even frequent flier programs to get the family's affairs in order.
After constantly moving as a child because of financial pressures and seeing her parents visited by debt collectors, Powell prioritised financial security and saved to buy her first house at 21 - becoming a financial adviser by 25.
However, after her husband's death she found herself under-insured and in debt.
The experience inspired her to build her business, DLP Life Design, with the express purpose of helping people maintain financial security through loss and grief.
Powell has observed through her career that women aren't finding the support they need from financial advisers after experiencing loss.
"Research has shown financial stress triggers women more than men. Women might need to be reassured more than men," Powell said.
She said that through her own experiences, she gained the ability to have tough conversations with clients.
Many of the clients Powell works with are dying, or have just lost a partner or a family member.
She explained that while the conversations are always difficult, by prioritising client needs from the very first meeting and taking the time to get to know her clients personally she is able to navigate them.
Powell finished by urging the advisers in the room to be compassionate, saying: "Clients will forget what you said, clients will forget what you did, but clients will never forget how you made them feel."