A Woman’s Worth: How Financial Advisors Can Better Serve Their Female Clients

Within a decade, women in the U.S. will control $30 billion in assets. Here’s how financial advisors can meet their needs.

Nowadays, according to Bloomberg, American women control more than $10 trillion in household financial assets. That amount will likely triple in the next decade, making it more important than ever for financial advisors to appeal to women from all walks of life.

Unfortunately, many women say they don’t receive the best service from their advisors. According to a recent survey by New York Life Investments, 40% of women feel financial professionals treat women clients differently. And 28% say that financial advisors push women out of the conversation.

However, male financial advisors can work with women just as effectively, as long as they strive to be more inclusive. If they don’t, the result could be millions in lost business.

Women Are an Asset to Advisors

Of course, everyone would agree that women have the right to voice their opinions in financial discussions — and to make decisions with or without their partners. What’s less understood is that financial advisors benefit from empowering women, too. Here are a few reasons why.

Women outlive men.
  • The average life expectancy for American women is 81, compared to 76 for men.
  • 70% of women change financial advisors within one year of their partner dying, according to McKinsey & Company.
Women increasingly hold the purse strings.
  • In the past five years, there’s been a 30% increase in the number of women who make household financial decisions, according to McKinsey & Company.
  • 75% of women under age 45 control their own finances, compared to 50% of those over age 55, according to Merrill Lynch.
Women show loyalty to their financial advisors.

According to a “Seeing the Unseen,” a four-part study by Merrill Lynch:

  • 70% of women are likely to recommend their financial advisor to friends or family.
  • 40% of women say they would follow their financial advisor to a different firm, compared to just 35% of men.
  • On the flip side, 35% of women will switch advisors due to a bad experience, compared to 30% of men.

How to Empower Women During Financial Discussions

If you’re like most financial advisors, you may need to do more to meet the needs of your female clients. Here are a few strategies to bring women into the conversation.

Extend the invitation.

Make sure to invite every adult in the household to your next meeting, even if you’ve only worked with one of them in the past.

Don’t make assumptions.

The Merrill Lynch study mentioned above found that, in a 30-minute meeting with heterosexual couples, financial advisors made an average of 10 miscues. These included:

  • Assuming the man was the decision-maker
  • Assuming the woman wanted direction
  • Assuming that the couple’s finances were merged
  • Assuming that the woman was more risk-averse
  • Assuming that the woman was less knowledgeable about investing

Tweak your language.

Experiment with your phrasing and see how your clients respond.

  • Cut down on financial jargon that can alienate women, and really, any of your clients.
  • Use language inclusive of both partners.
  • Use more positive words.

Even out your eye contact.

That same study by Merrill Lynch used eye-tracking technology in client meetings. The result: Financial advisors focused 60% of their time on the male client.

Prioritize relationship-building.

Get to know your female clients on a personal level. Determine their financial goals, their preferred methods of communication, their role within the household, and how they spend their free time. Instead of assuming couples agree on everything, ask each partner to share their individual opinions.

Act as a confidence boost.

The “confidence gap” — a term that describes women’s tendency to underestimate their expertise and knowledge — applies to the financial field, too. In fact, a 2017 Fidelity report found that only 9% of women believe they make better investing decisions than men, despite the fact that they actually get higher returns, on average.

  • Ask for your female clients’ opinions and ideas.
  • Compliment her good ideas — without being condescending.
  • Don’t take “I don’t know” or “I don’t care” as the final answer. Ask follow-up questions to dig deeper.
  • When a woman shows a desire to improve her financial literacy, offer both her and her partner educational opportunities.

In truth, working with female clients doesn’t take a lot of fancy footwork. Just follow the Golden Rule: Treat them as you would want to be treated. In other words, show them respect, honor their opinions, and encourage their involvement every step of the way. 

Whole Growth Partners and Your Business

Do you want to target your marketing to attract more female clients? Whole Growth Partners can help! Schedule a consultation today.

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Whole Growth Partners is a women-led financial services marketing firm helping drive marketing for exceptional firms from coast to coast.

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