(Dow Jones) The recession has turned more women into the breadwinners for their families, and that has had a silver lining for some financial advisors.

Terry A. Donahe, a financial advisor in Lake Oswego, Ore., said it has actually made his job easier.

"Women are more open, more willing to be transparent about where things are financially," Donahe said. "In general, they're getting things done better than the guys. Women are very coachable and teachable."

In some instances, the shift in family income has meant refereeing couples' changing financial goals. Also, some women have required instruction in basic financial principles. But when women are more involved in financial planning, couples tend to save more, studies have shown. And some advisors said they also bring more referrals.

The recession and job layoffs have hit men harder than women. About 20% of working-age men are unemployed, according to the latest government figures. The downturn has been particularly hard on jobs that were male-dominated such as construction and manufacturing.

Advisors said they, in turn, are seeing women playing a larger role in family income and finance. They are coming to meet with advisers, often for the first time.

"More often than not, the person who made the call to us was the wife," said Marcia Tillotson, senior vice president and financial adviser for Wells Fargo Advisors in Charlotte, N.C.

"The husband needs to have a reason to call us, say a tax return," she noted. "The women are willing to call to feel better."

Those encounters are gratifying for Tillotson, who cited the example of one woman who seemed quite timid before the recession. She temporarily took a part-time job and, as she has learned more about her finances, has become more confident. "The wife now knows everything he does and, when something happens to him, which is statistically is likely, she'll know what to do," said Tillotson.

An added benefit: The wife's friends, noticing her increased financial understanding, have sought out Tillotson as an advisor.