Make Way for the Women

Dee Costa

By: Dee Costa, SVP - Business Consultant at Asset Marketing Systems

Originally Written: March 14th, 2022
Updated: March 21st, 2024

The influence of women, as both advisors and clients, has grown so much that it can no longer be ignored. According to Financial Advisor Magazine, two-thirds of the nation’s wealth will be controlled by women by 2030. They also noted that 53% of women do not have a financial advisor. 67% of women feel misunderstood by their financial advisor, and 70% of widows leave their husband’s financial advisor within a year of death. It’s also interesting to note that women are the sole or primary breadwinner in 40% of households with children in the U.S. Bottom line, they are currently controlling far more than half the personal wealth in this country.

So why does Smart Money report that over 70% of women feel underserved and dissatisfied with the financial planning services they receive? How can we change this perception? How do we serve the female client, build long-term relationships, and grow our businesses in the process? This is a booming opportunity if we truly seek to understand and serve women. How do we build a female-friendly and purpose-driven practice?

When you ask a client, “What are your goals for this money?” you’re taking a masculine approach. However, if you ask a female client, “What is the purpose for your money?” you are appealing to her global sensibilities, which often results in more feedback from a woman and a deeper understanding of her needs and desires. While this information provides the advisor with greater insight to make appropriate decisions, it has many other advantages as well. By drawing her deeper into conversations and recognizing that her style and perspective may be different from her spouse, you are building a foundation of mutual respect and loyalty.

According to the author and private wealth specialist, Hannah Shaw Grove, “Where competency and results create loyalty in the male client, it is not enough for the women; women factor in the interpersonal and the advisor’s communication skills into the equation.” So, in a nutshell, if a woman doesn’t like and relate well with you, you probably won’t get her business (no matter how many degrees and recommendations you have).

Women are relationship-driven. Relationships take time to develop. It truly is a two-way street. When you profile a female client, she needs to learn about you and your life as well. It’s not just the product or service you can provide that will secure her business; it’s the relationship you develop with her. If you want to do business with her, let her get to know you. Purpose drives women. As nurturers, women tend to focus on others: raising children, supporting a husband, caring for aging parents, and developing community through service and friendship. All these roles are based on a desire to improve the lives of others. This deep sense of purpose motivates them every day.

While women also have a desire to create and accumulate wealth, this is rarely a primary motivator. On the other hand, helping women understand what drives and inspires them, and clarifying their underlying purpose for their money, is one of the most effective ways to engage them in the process of managing their money.

This is why it’s so important for you to be able to speak to people on a deeper level. If you can articulate your purpose – your WHY, you will capture their full attention. When they really “get” what drives you, and realize it’s more than just a paycheck, they become more receptive to your advice and less concerned about fees and performance.

Women are masterful communicators. Women tend to be very verbal creatures. They are known to speak over 75,000 words a day; men typically range around 25,000. So, in general, women get a lot more practice in communicating – and they get pretty darn proficient at it.

This communication skill is why women have an easier time developing relationships. Good communication is a cornerstone for every good relationship, and it’s defined by open-ended questions, good listening skills, and the ability to read non-verbal cues. In your practice, communication is not just about filling out a profile or planning questionnaire; it’s about learning who your prospect really is, listening to their experience, and understanding their situation. More and more, women want to be heard.

Effective communication is all about relating. If your prospects can relate to what you are saying, the relationship moves forward. If you talk over their heads, you alienate them, and they drift away. One of the most effective ways to help people relate is storytelling. Make sure that your personal story honestly reflects your passion for helping them achieve their purpose. Try to explain concepts and ideas by telling client stories. Let your clients share their stories, attentively listen, ask questions, use empathy, and you will find that people are pretty darn interesting, and they will tell you exactly who they are and what is important to them.

I encourage you to recognize that in this pivotal time, you’re in a unique position, poised to help bring about a tremendous cultural shift in the world of finance. You can be a leader of institutional change just by positioning yourself as not only a trustworthy advisor, but also a confidant to your clients.

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