Raising financial literacy among women is not only good for those women themselves, but can be good for their partners and for society as a whole, says Catherine Robson, a finalist in the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) Female Excellence in Advice Award 2012.

Robson, a founding principal of Melbourne-based Affinity Private, says the awards help raise the profile of women involved in providing financial advice and create role models to inspire other women.

“I am passionate about the ideas that this award stands for,” Robson says.

“Financial literacy for women in Australia is really important. I think there’s a gap in financial literacy for women generally in society, but I think there’s a whole range of benefits that not only the individual but all of us in society can gain from women having more of a leadership role when it comes to money.”

Robson says leadership can start in the home.

Smarter women, better couples

“There’s lots of married couples I’ve consulted with over the years, where when decisions are made jointly in a married couple there’s often greater perspective, there’s often a more harmonious approach to these things,” she says.

“I think there’s often an abdication that happens when women get married and have kids, and it can be a really lonely experience for men to be the sole breadwinner and also the sole financial decision-maker.

“So, part of what I see as my job in consulting with clients is asking women to step up and to be involved and to make sure that they understand, so they are not only participating in their own financial life but also I think it’s a really positive outcome for their relationships.

“This award gives some of those issues airplay that don’t often get talked about enough.”

Big ask

Robson (right) says the process of nominating for entering the awards was “really rigorous”.

“I’ve been involved in some other award processes,” Robson says. “I thought that the questions that were asked in the submission process were really insightful and they drew on a real range of areas, and demanded that the applicant was demonstrating a capability in multiple disciplines.

“In some ways I think this award is harder than some of the ‘general’ awards, in that not only is it asking you to demonstrate that you’re a good financial planner, but it’s also asking you to demonstrate that you have a passion for doing things beyond what you’d expect a financial planner to do.”