Women today are working more, earning more and taking an increasing role in their family’s financial planning. For advisors, a focus on women - with a understanding of their needs, and a willingness to approach financial planning in a way that works for them - can result in a solid client base.
In general, women are loyal. If they’re satisfied with their advisor relationship, they’ll be more than willing to provide referrals. In fact, recent surveys have revealed that more women look to a financial professional for advice before family and friends or even a spouse or partner. The same surves publicized that nine out of every ten of the women who participated took positive steps after receiving advice. These steps included making changes in their spending habits, increasing the amount they save each month and setting up an emergency fund.
Looking for a way to tap into this potential? Here are seven lessons for serving your female customers.
Lesson #1: Women are not a niche market
Driven by shifts in education, employment, and wealth, women have become a remarkable growth opportunity for your business.
Consider the stats: Women now account for more than half of U.S. college undergraduates1 and graduate students. They now make up roughly half the U.S. workforce2 and their average incomes have increased by 91% from 1970 to 2010.3 In 2009, 4 in 10 women outearned their husbands and that number continues to grow.
By acknowledging the growing economic power of women—and their distinct financial planning needs—you can tap into an enormous opportunity.
- Identify the role the women plays when talking with couples
- Address women as much, if not more, than men.
- Discover what drives the women as an investor. Values, goals, etc.
2 U.S. Department of Labor
3 United States Statistical Abstract, 2010
Lesson #2: Couples are a cornerstone
Couples are the cornerstone of the financial advisory business, but it’s important to remember that couples are made up of unique individuals. What many advisors fail to take into consideration is that each gender requires a different approach. It’s no longer as common for one partner to take the lead and make the decisions, yet it tends to be the husband to whom the financial advisor pays the most attention. Today’s couples are more likely to take a collaborative approach to planning.
- Encourage open dialog between partners/spouses.
- Identify the financial roles and responsibilities each person plays.
- Speak separately to each individual about their financial priorities and needs openly and honestly.
- Direct equal attention to both partners/spouses.
- Don’t expect agreement.
Lesson #3: Communicating with women is not business as usual
Good communication and responsiveness are critical to winning the hearts and minds of female clients. Women connect strongly with the emotional aspects of money. Therefore, advisors must learn to go beyond the numbers-only financial discussions to create meaningful personal connections. That means that conversations with female investors often begin with life and family issues.
- Begin by talking about life and family.
- Talk less, listen more.
- Be clear and avoid jargon.
- Use real-life examples.
Lesson #4: Information collection may take longer, but often leads to better results
Women clients offer significant long-term rewards in terms of loyalty, referrals, and productive, lasting working relationships.
- Adopt a win/win approach
- Invest upfront in building trust
- Uncover additional opportunities
Lesson #5: The Impact of life events drive decisions
Help your female clients understand the key lifestyle events that will affect their financial strategies—marriage, divorce, aging parents, children, widowhood, and career turning points. Spend time on the issues that are unique to women. Three main topics that resonate with women today:
- Building confidence in their financial acumen
- Lack of time and disposable income
- Concerns about longevity
- Focus on achieving “peace of mind” while identifying risks.
- Create a “fallback” strategy for emergencies
- Encourage active participation in the planning process.
Lesson #6: Education=empowerment=engagement
Many women recognize they need more information and education to become more involved in financial planning. More than half of the women surveyed in a recent industry study indicated they would like access to tools and calculators. They want a breakdown of complex advice principles (Advanced Sales Blog) and are interested in participating in on-demand webinars or live seminars that cover personally relevant financial planning topics.
- Be a thought leader and financial teacher
- Provide access to outside research & relevant studies
- Create easy-to-use resources
- Host seminars on life stages or create discussions on LinkedIn aimed towards women.
Lesson #7: Earn loyalty and referrals
Women are more likely to want all of their advisors—attorneys, accountants, financial advisors and others—to work together in a coordinated team. Networking parties and events are a good way for prospective clients to connect with other women who can tell them why they chose their financial advisor.
- Ask if you can help others
- Organize all-women seminars