Expat women and financial services in Asia
Written by Vanessa Vrdoljak on June 30, 2015.
According to the Financial Services Consumer Panel, women are less financially literate, less financially assured and more afraid of taking risks when it comes to money. Yet, other research suggests that they are better investors than men.
Take any look at the issue of women and personal finance and you will soon discover that it is riven with contradictions. Women have smaller pensions but live longer, they earn less but have shorter careers, and they understand less about money but spend less time considering financial planning. However things are changing more women are working than before, more of us are primary breadwinners, we own our own homes, businesses and control the household finances.
Financial prowess isn’t something that society has previously valued in a woman which is why even in the supposedly ‘progressive’ times the financial services industry is dominated by men. When I first moved to Vietnam, I was surprised to find that I was the only female expatriate financial adviser in the country.
It was a bit daunting, but I just rolled up my sleeves and got on with it and before long discovered that many of the other professional expatriates I was meeting were women. I was pleasantly surprised how many women in a variety of industries were in senior positions and often calling the shots in their respective companies.
It was not long before I found that many of the women I was meeting professionally often didn’t feel understood by male financial advisers they had met: that they were recommending products with a lower level of financial risk than they wanted. Many of these career women were in their twenties and thirties earning good salaries with a high level of disposable income. Often in such circumstances, with so long to go before retirement a higher risk investment is appropriate, but there seemed to be a reluctance from male financial advisers to recommend these investments.
It all sounded very chauvinistic and smacked of paternalism so I did some research and found that it was in fact a characteristic of the industry as a whole demonstrated in a study by Wang, P. (1994). Brokers still treat men better than women. It’s difficult to discuss this subject without touching on some social stereotypes. Financial literature is generally written by men and for men. It tends to be full of financial jargon, dry and quite frankly boring. For women, money is an emotional subject. We are generally less anxious about the final value of our savings but more concerned with what they deliver in terms of our life priorities. We want to know whether we will be able to afford to buy a new home, send our children to university or travel once we are retired. Financial planning for women is about achieving our lifestyle goals, realising cherished aspirations and taking care of our families.
There are plenty of opportunities for women in Asia in financial services, because women can be just as good, if not better, with money than men. Stanley Baldwin once said, “I would rather trust a women’s instinct than a man’s reason.”
I made the leap of faith and moved to Asia eight years ago, and my only regret is not doing it earlier. I have been with Infinity for nearly seven years now, starting off as a financial planning consultant both in Cambodia and Vietnam, so I am well versed in the requirements of the job. While I greatly enjoyed my time as a consultant and meeting dealing with clients my real passion is training and I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to head up Infinity’s Recruitment and Training Department.
Infinity have always encouraged and as a result attracted female financial advisers. Women thrive here both as financial planning advisers and also in senior management positions. As a result we probably have the highest number of female consultants of any international financial consultancy in Asia.
That means we are in a great position to offer financial planning to the ever growing numbers of professional women working across the region. And not the chauvinistic claptrap kind of advice either! Of course all our female advisers also have male clients because sometimes men need good sensible advice too!
If you are a woman (or a man) and would like to explore the option of a financial planning career in Asia then why not get in touch? Whether you are experienced or a looking for a career we are looking for dedicated people and we have a lot to offer.
Email Vanessa@infinitysolutions.com for more details or to arrange a no obligation chat on skype.