Financial advisors and the industry as a whole are falling short in providing education, financial empowerment and services to women. For some time now, women and investing have been a buzz topic in our arena, but few advisors are taking advantage of the opportunities presented by this lucrative group.
I’ve looked through a plethora of websites to see how firms are differentiating themselves and how they are attracting their ideal target markets. On many sites, I found firms listing the people they serve – families, doctors, farmers, ranchers and WOMEN. I haven’t found one list that includes MEN as a separate entity. This really piqued my curiosity to delve further into the mindsets of female investors and their needs.
Unfortunately, the results of a study performed by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) revealed the financial services industry was #1 in dissatisfaction by the women surveyed. Added to the disappointment, Fidelity research tells us that women are not afraid to ask for help from an advisor; however, 70% of women will fire their financial advisor within a year after the death of their spouse because the advisor failed to build a relationship with THEM.
WOMEN ARE NOT A NICHE
The abundant amount of research available tells us that we cannot ignore what female investors want. Advisors must step up to the plate and make strategic changes to attract and retain female investors.
One of the biggest mistakes advisors are making in an attempt to attract the female market is by categorizing them into a niche. A 2012-2013 study sponsored by Pershing, “Women Are Not a Niche Market. They are a Significant Business Opportunity,” provides us with the knowledge that the “equal” treatment women desire does not translate to “identical” treatment.
Because women and men have different life circumstances, different degrees of financial experience and a different approach to communication, advisors may need to modify their pursuit to building productive relationships. Get to know your clients beyond stereotypes; this may require ditching some bad habits. (For a copy of the study, contact us or go to Pershing.com/women.)
Another study conducted by Women of Wealth revealed that women are convinced that “their gender is a key factor in the disrespect and condescension they encounter.”
Each of the women polled for this survey by the Family Wealth Advisors Council had a net worth greater than $1 million dollars; their treatment was not due to sluggish portfolios. This is not to say that the financial industry as a whole treats women poorly. There are many financial advisors who are serving the female gender with above standard service.
Despite the dissatisfaction, female investors present a large opportunity for the financial industry. If you don’t get into the minds of what women want, you will be left behind by your competitor down the street who is engaging with the female population. Many firms are hosting women-only events, educational workshops and dedicating a portion of their website to women only for education, engagement and building relationships.
WHAT WOMEN WANT
I love the movie “What Women Want” with Mel Gibson playing the hotshot advertising executive who is involved in a strange accident, leaving him with the power to read women’s thoughts. The movie has me thinking how a form of these powers would be beneficial for all of us in some way. Reality is, with all of the studies performed, women are telling us what they want and if advisors want their business; it’s time to take them seriously.
A 2012-2013 Prudential Research Study tells us that women are increasingly becoming the primary breadwinners of many households. Unlike a generation ago, women who are the main source of the family income are likely to be single and in their 50’s or older. The financial crisis served as an accelerator, forcing women to change from their existing role into a primary breadwinner role. The crisis also served as an opportunity for financial advisors to provide help and education to women, leading them towards financial empowerment and a more secure retirement. These women are now more in control of their finances, but admit to their lack of knowledge how financial solutions can help them. (You can read the entire study at www.prudential.com/women)
To succeed in serving the female population, you must have a step-by-step process in place along with identifying your goals and answering key questions regarding your current approach to the female gender.
- Ironstone’s Step-by Step Action Plan: Female Investors – Strategies to Educate, Empower, and Gain Their Trust
HOW TO CREATE A FEMALE FRIENDLY FIRM
If you are an advisor looking to grow your business, the facts concerning female investors cannot be ignored:
- Many women are not satisfied with their current financial advisor and are open to making a change
- Female clients tend to refer more often than their male counterparts
- Most of the wealth in our nation is controlled by women
- Fees are not a buying decision deal breaker, value is
- Women are more likely to be open to your advice
BUILD A RELATIONSHIP
The female investor of today wants to develop a relationship with her advisor and the team. You can take the lead by:
- Providing education and inspiration prior to any business transactions
- Listening to completely understand her needs
- Showing what and why is best and right for her financial future
Implement a plan and step-by-step process describing how you and your team will work with female clients. Having a strategic plan in place will help you to measure and gauge your progress and goals.
- Review your personal story. Does it inspire you? Will it inspire women? Does it generate others to ask more questions about your firm?
- Review your value proposition. Ask yourself if your value proposition would prompt you to take notice.
- Be proactive. Implement a process that will WOW female clients, prospects and COIs.
- Design a women’s event/seminar process. Use this process as a marketing tool that will create chatter and referrals for your firm.
Women want and need something different than their male counterparts. They have quickly started to control more wealth and find themselves unhappy with their financial service experiences. If they don’t receive value and solutions to their needs with their current advisor, they won’t hesitate to fire and find a new advisor.
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