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Want Balance for Better? Bring Female Clients into the Fold

March 18, 2019
If you took a scroll through social media earlier this month, your feeds were likely filled with the hashtags, “#BalanceforBetter” and “#IWD2019.” After a little sleuthing, it probably didn’t take you long to figure out that the hashtags were tied to International Women’s Day — the annual, March 8th-milestone dedicated to celebrating women’s rights and the continued quest for gender parity.

The past few years have shed a new light on these issues, sparking a conversation that has captured the world like no other in recent memory. It’s a conversation that has made its way to our industry as well. You know the statistics: Women are the primary breadwinners in 40% of U.S. households. They hold $14 trillion of the nation’s personal wealth, a number that will grow at an astronomical pace over the next decade. 

But disparity still exists. Though their economic advantage is undeniable, today’s women face obstacles in making the most of their wealth, due to issues like the wage gap and interrupted work histories. 

We still have a long way to go to balance the playing field when it comes to these issues. But there is something our industry can do to help resolve them: Women investors need comprehensive financial planning now more than ever.

So, how can you capture and empower this largely underserved market? Start by asking yourself two questions:
 
Does my firm have an inclusive culture? 

Less than 20% of financial advisors in the U.S. are women. Yes, you read that correctly. Your ability to successfully connect with the women investor demographic should start from within your organization. Cultivate a culture of inclusion and develop female talent. Educate your leadership and advisory team about what women investors value in their client experience. Female advisors have a unique opportunity to speak “woman-to-woman” and truly connect with female clients about challenges they face in planning for their financial future.

These are the things that open the gateway for you to have more meaningful discussions with clients — and create more opportunities for your firm to add value.

Does our client experience address what women investors truly want?  

Many of us have been conditioned to believe that certain disciplines are black and white. Linear. But the truth is, finance doesn’t fall into that neat and tidy category. The issues you discuss with your clients are often emotionally complex and run deeper than the mechanics of a portfolio. And the way that your clients understand those issues varies, too. Many women process information circuitously. Studies have also shown that women tend to conduct more research before investing, are naturals at keeping a long-term focus and prefer to learn in group settings.

The point is that before you can serve women investors well, you need to take the time to truly understand how they want to work with advisors like you.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett — an author, economist and the founder of the Center for Talent Innovation — recently proclaimed that, “The biggest emerging market in the world is not China; it’s women. We don’t pay this market the respect it deserves.” Are you ready to lean in?

At Beyond AUM, we specialize in helping advisors refine their client experience, branding and messaging to better connect with niche demographics, especially women investors. We recommend that you start with these steps:
  • Get laser-focused. Saying that your firm “specializes in serving women” is like ordering a piece of toast at brunch (we love analogies, so bear with us). Rye bread is not wheat bread — and women aren’t just women. Like men, women come to the table with a diverse array of experiences. Specializing in a micro-market like divorcees, entrepreneurs, widows or attorneys allows you to more deeply understand — and therefore, better serve the needs of — your female clients, in the way that is best-suited to their situation.
     
  • Audit everything. From the look and feel of your client communications, to the website messaging that describes your firm and services, it’s important to take a step back, assess how you position yourself in the marketplace and determine whether you’re truly connecting with the women you want to serve. We often build processes from a one-dimensional perspective — and that creates barriers to entry. Start by connecting your value proposition to the life goals and challenges that women face. Making even the most minor changes can go a long way toward bringing women investors into the fold. 
     
  • Offer opportunities to educate and engage. As an advisor, it’s important for you to create environments that allow your female clients to ask questions in a safe way. We mentioned earlier that women prefer to learn in group settings — so you may consider hosting a special client event that’s focused on an issue your female clients may be facing, like raising charitably minded children or negotiating for a pay raise at work. Provide opportunities that allow you to share educational information with your female clients in the settings in which they feel most comfortable and confident.
Want advice on how to put these tips into action? Or are you ready to build your niche market service or practice? We can help. Create an exceptional client experience with Beyond AUM.
 
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Beyond AUM · 1628 W Irving Park Rd Suite 1W · Chicago, IL 60613-2586 · USA

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