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3 tips for serving single mothers
3 tips for serving single mothers

Nov 01 2022 / Round the Table Magazine

3 tips for serving single mothers

Women bear the brunt of COVID-19’s impact. Here’s how to help.

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“I know a lot of single mothers who feel people view them as a failure for putting careers and goals aside to take care of their children,” Luviminda Sacro, a two-year MDRT member from Iloilo City, Philippines, said, adding that COVID-19 has reduced incomes for single-parent families to half of what they usually were.

The Philippines has about 15 million single-parent families, and 95% of those households are headed by women. Yet, Filipino women are perceived as homemakers rather than the primary breadwinners. After two years into the pandemic, the labor participation rate for women plummeted to 48.1% by January 2022 compared with 72.9% for men. One reason women face more gender inequality in the workplace is because employers tend to lay off female workers first because they assume there’s another source of income in the family, according to the Philippines Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.

Women worldwide are overrepresented in the sectors hardest hit by lockdowns — hospitality, retail and food service — and 54 million women globally lost their jobs during 2020, down 4.2% from the previous year compared with a 3% decrease for men, according to the International Labor Organization. Additionally, women took on more unpaid labor responsibilities such as child care, home schooling and elder care. Those burdens can push women, particularly single mothers, into mental health struggles and burnout. Sacro has a heart for servicing single mothers and shares how financial advisors can better guide single-mom clients.

1. Listen to their stories.

“Single mothers have various pasts that resulted in their current life situations,” Sacro said. “Some bore a baby out of wedlock and were left alone by their partners to take care of the child. Other moms separated from their spouses for unfortunate reasons and kept custody of their child. Also, women generally are blamed for the ending of marriages or relationships. These are just some accounts, but whatever the circumstance that rendered a woman to become a single mother, it’s typically a painful story that drains these women of energy, confidence and self-respect. From my experience, those are attributes that single mothers need before becoming empowered by financial literacy and education. That’s why advisors must understand the backdrop single mothers are up against to serve them best.”

Besides, women in the Philippines are promising prospects because they are more financially literate than Filipino men, according to 2015 World Bank Financial Capability Survey. Filipino women are more likely to understand the purpose of insurance products as a risk management tool and tend to have a formal banking account, as they typically take charge of budgeting and managing household finance. Indeed, women anywhere are ideal targets for financial education because they, more so than men, recognize their lack of knowledge in financial matters, per a 2016 study published in the Journal of Consumer Affairs, and this awareness renders women to be more open to learning.

“Single mothers need all the support they can get,” Sacro said. “As advisors, we can help them improve their financial situation by starting their savings and building their wealth to future-proof them from any crisis. For example, a single mother client of mine of about 10 years now was able to build a passive income through her insurance policy, which she used to provide for her family without sacrificing their lifestyle. When they experience firsthand the value of savings and financial products, they become an advocate and inspire other single mothers to do the same.”

2. Plan their financial security.

After a financial advisor earns a single mother’s trust, it’s time to create a policy that will benefit the client based on their needs and budget. Sacro adds that the biggest concerns for single mothers are the following:

  • If I get sick, whose income can my family depend on?
  • When I get old, who will take care of me?
  • Who will provide for my children if I die before they reach working age?

“As they are the sole pillars of their homes, it is crucial for them to have a contingency plan addressing these concerns. The most important goals include income replacement, financial aid for critical illness, educational plans for the children and retirement,” she said. “On top of these needs, I believe financial advisors can help, through financial education, address the dark reality of single mothers who often flee from their partners to protect themselves and their children. Teaching them how to allocate their finances for saving effectively gives them a fighting chance to live independently.”

3. Keep in touch.

“I was able to help one of my single-mother clients sustain her needs amid the pandemic because of the constant communication I keep with her. At first, she had difficulty sourcing funds to survive the lockdowns. I checked on her to see how she was doing, especially at the height of the pandemic, which helped pave the way for her financial recovery. As policies aren’t always top of mind for clients, advisors give added value when they consistently keep in touch with clients to offer them products and solutions, which may turn out to be timely and needed,” Sacro said.