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Published: Dec 05, 1 4 min read

When I wrote last fall about what women find lacking from many financial advisers, I wanted to refer readers to an organization geared toward women's financial realities, such as variable work patterns, lower earnings, smaller nest eggs, and longer lifespans.

At first I couldn't find one.

Then I realized there wasn't one. What?

You've got the National Association of Women Business Owners; a nationwide network of Women's Bar Associations; even a National Association of Women in Construction.

But there's no Alliance of Financial Advisers for Women, or even a Women's Financial Planning Association.

Meanwhile, survey after survey shows that women are not only uncertain about investing and planning for their futures, they're worried for good reason: Many women are not only lagging behind men, they're off-track even in terms of their own long-term needs, as I described in a feature for Money.

Just a few weeks ago another survey by iShares announced that women are more worried about retirement than men are.

All right, already.

I'm not trying to paint women as hapless and helpless. On the contrary, most surveys (did I mention the abundance of surveys?) note that most women are eager to take the reins of their financial lives. They just aren't always sure where to start—and many advisers, it seems, miss the mark in trying to help them.

There are a handful of proprietary programs among the big financial services companies, notes Eleanor Blayney, CFP and author of "Women's Worth", referring to initiatives like Women Investing Now at Charles Schwab, and Citi's Women & Co., among others.

"What you don't have," Blayney says, "is an independent association of planners who are reaching out to female clients."

Maybe I'm missing something. Although a recent Ameriprise study found that women want more personal, collaborative advisory relationships—perhaps a cadre of trained, female-friendly financial pros isn't the answer.

Linda Descano, president of Women & Co., believes that financial planners should be trained to better handle all sorts of complex situations—blended families, inter-generational issues, sudden wealth, sudden singlehood—as well as the challenges that women face.

Her concern: "If you have a working group or association of planners for women, you run the risk of delivering generic advice aimed at 'the average woman'."

Perhaps there is a risk of creating some "female financial strategy" that would be a sop to people like me, but not particularly helpful for women. Maybe. I still think there's room for, and a need for, planners who focus on women, as well as an organization to help you find them.

And there does seem to be a handful of grassroots efforts from within the financial advisory community itself, as I've learned.

  • The Financial Planning Association formed a Women & Finance working group this year for planners eager to work with women.
  • The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors has a similar Women's Initiative taking shape, although its primary aim is to offer more support for female planners, who number just about 25% to 30% of all CFPs.
  • Also this year, Blayney and two other female financial planners launched Directions for Women, a website that aims to provide professional support for female advisors—and consumer referrals soon. www.directionsforwomen.com

So, what's your opinion? Do you think there should be a financial planning organization geared toward women? Join the discussion below.