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Close to the heart: Women’s wealth matters in private banking

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Ronald Lee, head of private wealth management in Asia Pacific, Goldman Sachs

On top concerns: Succession planning is a key theme in our conversations with female clients. This covers different topics including wealth preservation, choices regarding education, and business succession. Many female entrepreneurs are also interested in charitable giving as part of a broader focus on making an impact on society.

On wealth planning: We see women playing a larger role in succession planning, whether they are taking over the helm of the family business or are involved in making decisions on wealth transfer. A key area of focus is getting a holistic view on the process and that’s where wealth managers can come in to direct clients to review their planning and structuring.

On product appetite: There is no discernable difference in the types of product offerings they look for, but we have seen increased openness among women to seek professional wealth management services. Our approach remains the same which is to stay close to the client. As we see more women generating and managing wealth, we also plan to have more senior female bankers to help meet their needs.

Zohra Hajiani, managing partner, private client group, WGC Wealth

On top concerns: The increasing levels of active involvement by women in matters concerning financial planning is truly refreshing. Most women prefer to have their portfolio in the growth phase with maximum investments in the equity market since they promise longer and double-digit growth figures. However, during the retirement phase, the preference is largely towards financial instruments that guarantee inflation plus risk-free returns.

However, there are still key concerns that keep them up at night. One of the primary issues is their absolute understanding of the various financial instruments, which brings in the fear of taking decisions and prudently allocating surplus funds. Age is another key factor that acts as a major concern for women when it comes to understanding family wealth. For those who are in their 50s and have always been homemakers, it is difficult to fathom being involved in decisions pertaining to the family wealth, should they survive their husbands. Though, the levels of involvement are increasing in order to retain their lifestyle, health, and avoid dependence on children and lead a financially secure and stable life. This also holds true for single mothers and widowed women.

On wealth planning: While the traditional mindset continues to remain wherein men are deemed to be better equipped with financial decisions, a slow but steady increase in the involvement of spouses/daughters in financial matters is being witnessed. We largely recommend family members sit together for portfolio review meetings and understand the overall financial wealth of the family. One important trend we see today is wives actively ensuring their financial independence. We believe that familiarising women with money matters, bank accounts, filing returns, and systematic investment plans or mutual funds would be instrumental in managing their own portfolios with the help of a trusted advisor.

On product appetite: Being able to provide for their lifestyle and independently establish financial security, no matter what their age or circumstance, is the need for every HNW client. Regular income is a key factor that determines their attitude towards wealth planning and creation. They want to see their goals — such as being able to provide for themselves, higher education and marriage for their kids, and quarterly planned international holidays — being met. Some of them also want to contribute to the charity of their choice while they are alive and are keen to have such regular cash flows to give back to society along with enjoying their post-retirement phase. Amongst the fairly younger audience (up to their early 40s) there is a huge appetite to save and invest in equity with a long-term return focus. They seem keen to allocate 20-30% of their portfolios to small and mid-cap stocks or mutual funds based on hand-holding done by the trusted advisor and also plan for health insurance, life insurance, and retirement.

At WGC Wealth, we are working to advise women and actively engage them in portfolio reviews to provide yearly cash flows, adopt passive investment strategies to avoid volatility, and revisit goals set at the beginning of the year to ensure that the future cash flow matches the intended needs.

Marc Van de Walle, global head of products, Bank of Singapore

On wealth planning: Client conversations on succession planning are centered around achieving the desired outcomes outlined by the owner of the assets, regardless of whether the asset owner is a man or a woman. In our experience, female decision makers of family businesses tend to prefer solutions which also consider the emotional and practical aspects of the family to ensure that their family values are enshrined in the planning.

On product appetite: Women tend to be more considered than men when making investment decisions, leading them to generally trade less. They also take a longer-term view. This helps them to achieve good investment performance.

Rohit Ganguli, head of wealth planning Asia, EFG Bank AG, Singapore Branch

On top concerns: While each case is obviously different from the other and each case entails different concerns and wishes, generally one of the main concerns we see from women clients is a concern on the provision of adequate income sources and liquidity in the future to ensure that the family is well looked after, that children’s education needs are fully provided for, and also to try and avoid family disputes which can happen when there is no clear succession plan.

On wealth planning: Succession planning is a key concern with many clients — this is an area that largely deals with the preservation of the wealth the client has generated over his/her lifetime and looks at a suitable solution to allow the transmission of this wealth to future generations in accordance with the client’s wishes.

A suitable succession planning strategy must be bespoke and involves detailed discussions by us with clients to not only understand their background and concerns in this area but also to ensure that any proposed solution is an exact fit for them. While these discussions were previously most often had with the patriarch of the family, increasingly we see that women are an integral part of succession planning discussions and in framing the solutions we can assist with, given the evolving multi-faceted role they play in families today.

On product appetite: In our experience, there is not really a noticeable change in the appetite of any of our clientele, whether male or female. The main drivers to put in place a succession plan have always been planning on how best to preserve their estate and to protect loved ones, and this will generally always be the case. There are several tools to address these concerns including trusts, foundations, corporate structures, and insurance solutions.

As mentioned, there must be detailed discussions with clients to ensure the most suitable tools and solutions are in place. At EFG, clients’ needs and interests are our top priority — as such, we have always partnered with our clients to understand their individual needs and to identify solutions which work for them before moving ahead to work on these solutions. This approach is critical to ensure you have ‘got it right’. Additionally, the awareness of trends and the manifold products available in the market is an important part of our role to ensure we are able to make the difference.

Ivy Li, head investment specialist, fixed income, Asia, Bank Julius Baer

On product appetite: When it comes to investment, there isn’t much difference between men and women. All along it’s about risk and reward. There might be certain occasions when men are more open to ideas in the automobile space and women look more to the high fashion industry, for example. Nevertheless, this type of gender stereotype would never be the investment consideration. Regarding risk tolerance, some might think that it’s higher for men than women. That also depends on factors such as the source of wealth, investment horizon and risk appetite, and income needs, etc. We don’t see that a woman investor would have a lower risk appetite than her male counterpart. Over the years, with an increasing number of women professionals and entrepreneurs, demand for products and services management from female high net worth clients has been on the rise.

Prateek Pant, head of products & solutions, Sanctum Wealth Management

On top concerns: In the context of wealth planning, the key areas of concern for women are to ensure that family harmony doesn’t get disrupted and that there is hassle-free transmission of wealth. When they have their children or intended recipients living in another jurisdiction or overseas, it becomes all the more cumbersome to have to deal with administrative complexities, so they want to understand how to pass on wealth in a seamless and efficient manner. When you have clients with minors, the key concern becomes how will financial affairs be managed for the children should something happen to both parents.

On product appetite: In Indian society, it’s predominantly the patriarch that calls the shots. However, we are seeing a gradual change, wherein women are starting to take an active rather than just a passive approach pertaining to estate and wealth planning. Women are beginning to become key influencers in opening up discussions around wealth planning because the community is beginning to realise that while it’s important to grow wealth, it’s equally important to preserve wealth and ensure its smooth transmission to the next generation. So women are actually influencing patriarchs to have a discussion on and to do something about such matters, rather than keeping them on the backburner. Usually, men tend to have a very goal-oriented or objective discussion, while women tend to pay heed to the softer emotional aspects that become very relevant in discussions like these.

However, women may face challenges like getting involved in matters related to wealth only at a late stage, in many cases only when there are trigger events like a death in the family. Moreover, it’s mostly the patriarch that holds information pertaining to wealth and this information is not readily available to other family members or spouses, so women may struggle with actually understanding where all the assets are located or invested.

Most significantly, when women participate in discussions, it’s considered more of an indulgence rather than an expectation. So when we have discussions on wealth planning with clients, we do encourage women to participate, get apprised of the entire estate and prepare for any eventuality so they can deal with things head-on rather than running helter-skelter when they need to get involved.

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