What women want from financial advisors

Yelp.

That’s the app my friends once compared me to. If Erica likes it, she’s going to let us know.

Whether it’s the buttery scallops I had at the new restaurant I visited over the weekend, the toughest (but best) class I’ve taken at the gym, or the beauty product I’ve found to be an absolute must-have, I typically can’t help but share my enthusiasm with my network. My friends, my mother, my co-workers, everyone will know the products, people, and places that get my five-star rating.

This like-minded, personal circle of influence that we all have can be a powerful place. As a financial advisor, you know that’s where referrals are often born. Women especially tend to go to this group for advice or a recommendation before making a decision about a service they might need.

But here’s the trouble: Financial advisors likely aren’t frequently reviewed.

How can you tell? Take a look at your book of business. Are women underrepresented? If you’re like many financial advisors, the answer is yes.

Let’s digest this significant opportunity to grow your business and some simple steps to making your client experience worthy of a five-star rating.

Women and wealth

Over the last decade, women’s net worth has been growing steadily. Today, American women:

  • are the primary breadwinners in 40% of households
  • make up 52% of managers and professionals
  • own 30% of private businesses
  • earn 57% of college degrees
  • are expected to control $22 trillion, or two-thirds of all private wealth, by 2020.1

Yet, despite their growing economic power, women continue to feel underserved by financial advisors.2

It’s all about the atmosphere

When a prospective client walks through your door, does the environment tell her she belongs? Here’s a checklist to make sure you’re telegraphing your welcome.

Prepare your waiting room. What mix of reading materials do you offer clients? Consider adding some travel magazines, Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women in Business, and other publications of interest to women. Check your restroom too.

Is there a convenient a space to set or hang that handbag (let’s be real: whole ARMbag) I have been toting all day? Are there facial tissues? What about hand lotion and an emery board for the nail I snagged on my way?

Offer childcare. Whether you’re preparing to meet a female client one-on-one or you’ve scheduled a larger event, consider offering childcare at your location and letting her know ahead of time. That’s one less thing she’ll need to plan for in her busy life, increasing the chances she can fully engage. And her friends and colleagues are sure to hear about it — I’ve become a member of fitness studio close to home because they offer this perk. And I’m not the only toddler mom in my area!

Hire women. Does your staff reflect the demographic make-up of the clientele you want to serve? If not, consider filling in some gaps. Fewer than a third of financial advisors are women4, so consider establishing a mentorship program to bring women into the profession. Or holding an event for clients to bring their daughters to your office and understand the services you offer — what an eye-opener when I realized my family’s financial advisor was just as important as I was in the process of going to the university of my choice.

Involve her in decision-making. The women in your book of business right now may be a part of a couple. Make it a point to continually engage both parties in the discussion. Keep in mind that 77% of widowed individuals are women2, so odds are that one day she’ll control the couple’s assets. When that time comes, you want to know you’ve forged a strong working relationship with each as an individual, because studies have shown that nearly a quarter of widows take their assets and walk out the door.4 Please, make sure I read that email with my tax statement. Don’t let my husband get to it first and assume I’ve gotten all the information!

So, are you lined up to become recommended? A few little touches can go a long way toward making everyone feel welcome. Get the small stuff right, and referrals can follow.


This content is for informational use only. This is not an endorsement of any social media or networking service. FINRA regulates the use of social media. Please consult your firm's compliance department before using social media for business purposes.

Footnotes

1 Sources: Business Insider, “Women Control the Money in America.” February 2012. Digest of Educational Statistics, 2015. Investing News, “Women & Investing: Why Many Advisors Are Missing Out,” April 2012. Pew Research Center, “Breadwinner Moms,” May 29, 2013. National Center for Education Statistics, 2016.

2 LIMRA: “Marketing and Selling to Women: A Three-Level Approach,” (MarketFacts, 2012, Number 1).

3 United Capital, Financial Life Management Research Report, 2016.

4 “The Emerging Profile of Women Investors,”Longo, Tracey. 2008. Financial Advisor Magazine, Aug. 1, 2008.

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