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NAIFA INSIGHTS

NAIFA: Women Want Their Advisors to Talk Less, Listen More

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If I told you that women in the U.S. hold 51.3 percent of the wealth and that there are 9.1 million woman-owned businesses in the U.S. generating $1.4 trillion of revenue, would it be a market that would interest you?

Marketing to women will become a must in the future as these numbers begin to rise. Sixty percent of all graduate degrees and 53 percent of all doctoral degrees are earned by women. Women make about 70 percent of household buying decisions — and that includes decisions related to financial services. Nine out of 10 women will manage their finances alone at some point in their lives because of their tendency to marry later in life, divorce or outlive their husbands. Women tend to be very loyal and refer others to their advisor if they are happy. If they aren’t happy, you can expect them to seek assistance elsewhere. Seventy percent of widows leave their financial advisor within a year of their husband’s death.

Retaining Your Female Clients

So what’s the best way to keep and grow the number of female clients you work with? First and foremost, you must acknowledge the fact that women tend to approach decisions a bit differently from the way men do. Women tend to be more risk-averse and to value working “together” with their advisor. Bottom line: Women want to be involved in the process and understand what they are buying.

Here are some tips for working successfully with women:

  • Relationship is key. Women tend to value having an advisor who is great at building a strong relationship. The advisor must take an interest in the client, and try to gain an understanding of who she is and how she operates.
  • Listen and communicate well. Talk less, and listen more. When you do talk, be sure you are clear and concise in what you are saying. As an advisor, you also need to create a safe space so that there is comfort as well as freedom to conduct candid conversations. Advisors who are skilled in asking open-ended questions and clarifying responses with more questions will do well working with women clients. Don’t assume you already know the solution without vetting the problem together.
  • Educate them. Women want to understand, and they often ask many questions to find the answers they need before making a decision. You may need to allow more time for appointments or plan for additional meetings so that all questions are answered and you are able to cover thoroughly the solution you have come up with. Women want to collaborate on the final decision and don’t necessarily want to be told what to do. Use real-life stories to make your point, and make note of areas to which additional reinforcement can be made via articles, newsletters, etc., when following up. You also may want to consider hosting informal educational sessions or social gatherings for your female clients. They often have a thirst for knowledge and a desire to connect with other women.
  • Engage them. If you are working with both a man and a woman, include the woman in the process and engage her regularly. Watch her body language and eye contact. Make sure you are directing your questions to both of them, not just to the man. Generally, women want to see how their goals can be met and their loved ones protected much more than they want to pick the best-performing mutual fund. Make sure to regularly link the “solution” back to the initial goal so she can see how they align.

If you find yourself lacking in any of these skills, you may want to consider hiring a woman advisor and teaming up with her when approaching female prospects. This is a great opportunity to bring new advisors into the industry and fill a need in your firm to reach a growing female market. This is an excellent time to make sure that you and your firm are prepared to attract and retain a growing market of female consumers. I wish you great success!

Juli McNeely, CFP, CLU, LUTCF, is vice president/treasurer of McNeely Financial Services, Spencer, Wis., and is secretary of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA). Contact her at [email protected] [email protected].


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