Wealth management for women


May 29, 2011

What do women want from their advisers?

Acquiring sustainable wealth is the product of a cautious and well-balanced approach for men and women; a steady, disciplined and long-term journey.

Getting a financial advisor is always a good thing. Your advisor should guide you towards financial priorities, provide you market insights and then recommend investment strategies that best suit you.

This of course can only be achieved after a comprehensive discussion has taken place between you and your advisor, within which, a range of topics will have to be understood by the advisor.

This will include, but won’t be limited to, your financial and personal circumstances, time horizons, future objectives and risk appetite. After considering all aspects that make up your profile, only then, can the advisor customise an investment portfolio to suit your needs.

Investors must be aware of the risk and returns of each investment option, and while considering a good balance between liquidity and the medium- to long-term investments, a financial advisor will recommend a diversified portfolio that will include a range of investment solutions like capital protected investments, bonds, mutual funds, structured notes and alternative investments.

Being more informed about the investments made and maintaining this diversity in a portfolio, will then prepare you as an investor to ride through difficult market conditions and remain focused on future objectives.

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What do women want from their investments?

Our experience has shown us that women investors look for financial advisors who are more pro-active and engaged with their customers. They want their advisors to provide them with timely information and advise what they require in order to be able to make informed decisions.

Across the region, the key trend we see is that the affluent women customers are increasingly sophisticated and educated. They do not want to put all the investments into one asset class as happened with the stock market and real estate.

Customers are looking to diversify their portfolios especially in light of the recent credit crunch. Good financial planning can help them with this.
We also see that women investors have a more cautious approach due to the recent market volatility. They prefer to invest in capital protected products without exposing themselves to high growth funds.

Investors should have a time horizon of 5-10 years and now more than ever they should ensure their investments are highly diversified across a range of non correlated asset classes.

We also see women more interested in disciplined savings plans. These plans are essential part successful future financial planning. These plans are easy, convenient and cost effective, enabling customers to prepare for future events such as expensive college fees for their children.

These systematic investment plans allow the customer to buy into a particular investment at different price levels, buying more of an investment when markets are down and less when values increase.

By doing this, clients smooth out the price they have incurred to purchase an investment, thus allow an averaging of the cost, a practice known as dollar cost averaging.

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For a young balanced women investor we would recommend as follows:

- 10 per cent cash
- 20 per cent cautious investments such as starting a regular investment plan
- 50 per cent balanced investments such as into a Global Equity Fund, North America
- 30 per cent higher risk, here we would recommend Emerging Market Equity funds such as BRIC, GEM, India, China etc.

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Does this differ from men, if so how?

We recommend a holistic financial planning review for every client regardless of their gender to fully understand their individual goals, objectives and financial position. Based on this information, we are then able to advise on the most suitable structure to invest through to meet those goals.

We always look at achieving risk adjusted returns for their clients. In light of the current environment of very low interest rates, we would recommend a diversified approach across all asset classes within your specific risk profile.

These asset classes include cash, bonds, equities, commodities, hedge funds, private equity, property, alternatives, or currency. We offer solutions to fit every risk profile and all investors.

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Also, women appeared to be taking more interest in managing their finances now and investing it rather than keeping it in cash deposits or trust accounts. Could you comment on this and do you have any suggestions as to why this is happening?

Yes certainly, women in recent times are taking a more active interest in structuring their wealth in an efficient way rather than leaving funds in cash deposits.

It seems that we are consulting with increasing numbers of women employed in senior positions or business women earning substantial income who therefore have high disposable incomes and surplus cash.

We would advise anyone in such a position to meet with our financial advisor to conduct a full financial review so that we can tailor advice specific to their requirements.

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Do women from different cultures have different expectations about their investments and the services offered?

We believe every client wants to know that they are receiving quality advice and a high level of service regardless of their culture.

Said al Adhali is head of personal financial services support and operations at HSBC Oman. If you have any queries on this subject or another topic related to his area of expertise, e-mail muscatdaily@apexmedia.co.om