Research shows that women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, which may require that financial planning be tailored to their needs.

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FP Canada’s 2020 financial stress index, conducted online in May 2020, highlighted how Covid-19 shutdowns have affected the services sector in particular, in which women are overrepresented.

Nearly half (47%) of the women surveyed said the pandemic had affected their levels of financial stress, compared with 41% of men. Further, 55% of women said they’d lost sleep over finances, compared with 46% of men.

Women were also more likely to have financial regrets, that index found, with a greater proportion saying they wished they’d saved more and earlier (44%, versus 39% of men).

Survey respondents without a financial planner were more likely to have financial regrets (83%) than those with professional help (75%).

“That’s where the opportunity is,” said Carissa Lucreziano, vice-president at CIBC Financial Planning and Advice, in a late October interview. “That is where we [advisors] can make an impact.”

To engage female clients, Lucreziano suggested encouraging them to save early.

“Use visuals, charts and make sense of the data,” she said. “And listen to what your clients are telling you through probing questions about their dreams, priorities and what keeps them up at night.”

To address their regrets, she suggested demonstrating the power of planning.

“If you build a financial plan for your client and show them the effects of saving more, and how that contributes to reaching their goals, it can help them understand how everything is interconnected,” she said.

The client makes the final decision about how much to save and when, but advisors should present clients with options, showing them the time horizons that are associated with reaching their goals — that way, clients make informed decisions, Lucreziano said.

With the economy still struggling with Covid-19, especially the services sector, re-evaluating a client’s plan will be important. (Consider that a recent RBC report found that a significant portion of relatively young women have left the workforce during the pandemic.)

“If sources of income have been lost or if other expenses like child care have suddenly become higher, we can help them adjust their financial plan to fit their new situation,” Lucreziano said.

She suggested advisors inform clients about government assistance or any help offered by financial institutions.

Also, to address stress, advisors can make a client’s plan tangible during annual reviews.

“Take the time to walk your client through their financial plan and show them how they are netting out,” Lucreziano said.

For example, show your client “areas of progress of growing net worth,” which may have been achieved by them paying down a mortgage, saving for an emergency fund, or saving towards retirement or future large purchase.

Creating an emergency fund and addressing cash shortfalls can also help reduce stress, Lucreziano suggested.

To further reduce client worry, she suggested including negative scenarios when building a financial plan, focusing on potential situations your client could stress over, such as a prolonged income loss or increased child care costs.

“If one of the situations were to occur, your client is slightly more prepared for it and knows they have options,” she said.

She also reminded advisors that building relationships takes time, and scheduling regular check-ins with clients can help.

“Not only does it show you care, but it also allows you to address anything in the financial plan that isn’t working and correct course,” Lucreziano said.

This article is part of the AdvisorToGo program, powered by CIBC. It was written without input from the sponsor.