As the female financial advisors walked into the workshop, they stopped short, looked around, smiled and expressed pleasure. When the male advisors walked into the room, they paused and wondered, “What have I gotten myself into?”
They all had come with hopes of learning how to connect with and attract female clientele, but they certainly weren’t expecting this.
The conference room had been transformed, with every detail tailored to appeal to the feminine. Tables were covered with crisp white tablecloths, and carefully set with pink linen napkins and delicate china teacups. A large bouquet of flowers graced the front podium, and each table had a small vase of pink tulips. Soft music played as participants found their seats, but we could still hear their quiet expressions of surprise when they found our final touch: a pink journal for each participant.
In this gentle, feminine environment, the women came to life. The men were a bit more sullen at first, as this all felt a bit foreign to them. But, by the end of the workshop, even the men were nodding in agreement: women really respond well when we tailor the environment to suit them.
A female-friendly financial advisory practice isn’t created by writing a cutesy script or softening your tone of voice; it starts with tailoring your approach to suit the ladies.
The financial industry at large has failed to notice that it is very strongly skewed toward men. For the most part, financial services were developed by men, for men, based on what appeals to men. While this system worked well in a male-dominated culture, the balance of financial power is shifting quickly.
Women have never had more financial power than they do now. BCG Estimates that by 2014 women will control close to $29 trillion. These projections are based on women’s growing presence in the workforce, greater involvement in family finances and the greater incidence of inherited wealth owing to women’s longevity.
Today, women are earning and controlling more wealth, becoming more involved in business, and engaging in marriage as equals. BCG estimates that by 2014, women will control close to $29 trillion, based on their growing presence in the workforce, greater involvement in family finances, and greater inherited wealth.
These women expect the industry to recognize what they need and want… and it’s NOT a cutesy script.
Women want more. From the office environment to the way information is presented, the female client will no longer tolerate “manhandling.” The time has come to learn how to appeal to the feminine forces of finance--or prepare to face massive attrition.
Did you know that when a woman loses her husband to death or divorce, 70 percent change advisors within one to three years (according to a study by Boston Financial Services)? What is the driving force behind this trend? It’s simple: most financial advisors direct their energy, attention and information to the husband. Sure, they may treat the wife with cordiality, maybe even warmth, but they tend to leave her on the periphery instead of really engaging her in the process.
Since 90 percent of all women will experience the loss of a spouse at least once, sometimes twice in her life, many traditional advisors are in for some serious attrition. Avoiding attrition is just one reason to create a female-friendly practice, but there are so many other benefits:
- Because women tend to be strongly relationship oriented, they are also very loyal. Once you establish a good relationship with your female client, it will take a lot for another advisor to woo her away.
- Women are motivated by a strong sense of purpose, and they relate to their money through that purpose. When they know their money is in position to support their purpose, they relax, and usually see portfolio performance and related fees as an important, yet secondary concern.
- As we all know, women love to talk, and because of this tendency, female clients provide three times more referrals than male clients. They are deeply community oriented, frequently trading information and knowledge to enhance their own life and the lives of those around them. Whether their sense of community extends to family, the neighborhood, colleagues, or a much larger circle of influence, when a woman becomes your “raving fan,” people are going to hear about you!
In order to create the kind of practice that attracts and wows women, it is critical to understand the strengths and natural abilities that women bring to the world. These are the same strengths that have helped women effectively manage their homes, families, crises and careers – and these are essential points in building rapport.
- Women are driven by a purpose. As natural nurturers, women want to make the world right. While men prefer to focus on goals and objectives, women focus on their purpose in life, and how money can help them fulfill this purpose.
- When selecting a financial advisor, women require three things (according to Hannah Shaw and Vanguard):
- Good interpersonal skills: the ability to create a personal connection with the woman
- Good communication skills: the ability to ask great questions, and communicate concepts and information in a manner that is easy to understand, using terms and concepts that apply to women
- Expertise: this includes both knowledge and experience. Most financial advisors overemphasize this component and underperform in the first two areas.
- Women are relationship driven. A good relationship should be reciprocal and escalating. As you learn about your female client, she may want to learn about you as a person. Sharing who you are and why you care about working with her is essential in building her trust and loyalty.
- Women work well in communities. Create opportunities for women to learn and share knowledge with each other. In their eyes, this adds to your value, and when women see that other women are comfortable with you, this dramatically enhances trust.
One of the smartest things you can do as an advisor is to learn how to create a professional environment that really engages your female clients.
By speaking to their innate strengths and abilities, and encouraging them to become more interested in their financial affairs, you can effectively differentiate yourself as a professional – and when you do, it will open the floodgates to a sea of female contacts, all looking for a financial advisor who knows how to work with women.