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Financial planning for women

8 August 2023
4 minute read

Financial planning for women shouldn't be that much different to financial planning for men. Women need to, just as men do, protect their assets, such as with short and long-term insurance and emergency funds, and grow their wealth through investing so they can achieve their financial goals. However, women face some unique challenges that make financial planning a little different.

Women need to save and invest more than men

Women live longer than men, by just over 5 years in South Africa, according to Statistics South Africa. And, they have shorter careers, as much as a third shorter than men, according to the 2022 Women’s Report. Women also earn less than men, around 70 to 80% less according to the World Economic Forum 2023 Gender Gap Report, where South Africa ranked a lowly 111 out of 146 on wage equality for similar work.

Local tax numbers further highlight the wage gap. Women made up only 26% of South African taxpayers earning a taxable income of R1 million and more, found Dr Lee-Ann Steenkamp in the 2022 Women’s Report. Incidentally, the report also noted that there is a 26% difference in retirement income between men and women!

The numbers above can look a little depressing. Women may need save and invest more, but this is hard to achieve when there is less money available.

The good news is that women have what is needed to make up for these challenges. They are good at budgeting, good at investing, and have the discipline needed to stick to a financial plan.

Good budgeting skills

Because many women run the household budget they have excellent budgeting skills. They are able to stretch rands and find more when they need to. That’s a basic must have of any financial plan.

Sound investment decision making skills

Various studies, such as the 2021 Fidelity Women and Investing study, have shown that women achieve slightly higher returns on their investments than men.

A 2023 Wells Fargo Advisors clients study found that “women exhibited several important strengths related to their investment success, including discipline, willingness to learn, and a selective approach to risk-taking. … This means that women achieved higher returns on their investments while taking on less risk than men.”


How often have you been frustrated when clients don’t follow tailored and achievable financial advice and financial plans? Not sticking to plans is a stumbling block to achieving financial goals and dreams, and it is where the ball is in the client’s court. You can advise, encourage and educate, but it is your client who needs to implement the plan. The discipline many women have when it comes to money, budgeting and investing, means they are more likely to stick to their plans and achieve their goals. Which can more than make up for earning less!

Managing money well and achieving financial goals does not solely depend on how much is earned. A large part of financial success is down to attitude, skills and commitment. Women have these in abundance, giving them the ability to overcome the challenges they face.

Working with your clients

Your clients are all unique. They have different needs and may face additional challenges when it comes to their financial plans. For example, some women are not familiar with the world of money and investing, and many put others before themselves, neglecting to invest in their futures. You have the skills to work with your clients to find out what additional challenges they face, and how they can overcome these.

Empower and educate

As a starting point, focus on financial literacy and help your clients become familiar with the world of personal finance. Even if they work in the financial services industry, they may not be familiar with the various terms and products.

Certified financial planner Mulalo Nemataheni says the first thing women need to do when looking at their financial plan is to educate and empower themselves. Financial advisers and planners have a big role to play here and can ensure women are money smart and money confident!

Make sure women invest in themselves and their future

Women tend to care for others before themselves. For example, many women will pay for the children's needs and future needs, such as ensuring they get a good education. However, women also need to invest in themselves.

You can encourage women to include their need in their budgets, such as paying themselves by building their saving and investing into their budgets! Melissa Dyer, certified financial planner, says she always advises her clients to pay themselves first.

The need for personal advice

Financial planning for women doesn’t need to take its own special route. It does need to take into account the challenges women face so that they don’t end up being a stumbling block on the road to financial freedom. By building on women's existing skills and ability to commit to budgets and plans, they can achieve their financial goals with the right knowledge, advice and support from advisers and planners.

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