Many women who need financial advice to improve their super balances aren’t able to access it due to cost barriers that could be redressed by regulatory change, a panel has heard.

Speaking at Professional Planner’s Post Retirement Conference in Sydney, a planner delegate said the cost of preparing a Statement of Advice exceeds what many women who could really use advice can afford to pay.

“If I tell a client to put $20 a week into super to get the co-contribution and maybe $50 of their pay in as a salary sacrifice, I’ve got to back it up with a 50-page SoA and it’s just really disengaging, the process is too long and cumbersome,” the audience member said. “I think we can use technology to improve that communication piece, but that’s also where legislative change could come in; where there could be advice from one to many in cost-effective ways and you’re not landing in jail because you’ve said to someone ‘Put some money in super.’ ”

Deborah Kent, director of Integra Financial Services, who was on a panel addressing the topic, agreed cost is a major problem for both advisers and female clients.

“I have to be honest, in most cases I don’t make any money out of giving advice to [women in their 60s],” Kent said. “It’s not pro bono advice, but it is very close to it.”

Changes Kent would like to see to improve the uptake of advice among women with lower super balances include measures to help small-business owners pay super and an increase in the number of female financial advisers. However, she conceded there is “no silver bullet” for correcting the disparity between men’s and women’s super balances.

Through divorce, women often end up keeping the family home, but not having much in their super balance, Kent added.

Suzanne Haddan, managing director of BFG Financial Services, who joined Kent on the panel, said there are strategies women can employ, such as super splitting, that can make a difference.

Haddan said the education piece is important.

“Sometimes, the conversation we need to have with female clients is, ironically, about the benefits of financial independence for others,” she said.

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