What women really want in an adviser

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Think of the best relationship you have with a male client. He’s been with you for many years and you consider yourself “old friends.” How is your relationship with his wife? If your answer is anything other than “spectacular,” Cindy Scott, manager at 1st Global Wealth Management Academy, says there’s a 70% chance your client’s wife will fire you within a year after the death of their spouse.

While an increasing number of women are making the financial decisions, many are doing so uneasily:

  • Roughly 82% of women surveyed by Prudential Financial in the US said they needed “some” or “a lot of” help in making those decisions
  • Nine out of 10 weren’t confident they knew how to choose the appropriate financial products needed to meet their needs
  • When making an investment decision, women are most likely to gather information from their spouse (64%), printed materials (62%) and the Internet (42%)

Only one-third of women stated that they had a detailed financial plan in place. Why so few? The most common barriers cited include: lack of time, the pull to meet shorter-term financial obligations, lack of knowledge and an unmet desire for assistance.

What Do Women Want in a Financial Adviser?

According to Fidelity, women want:

  1. A plan
  2. To be listened to
  3. To be heard
  4. Time to digest and think

Some 74% of women rank “concern about their children, grandchildren” as their top financial planning priority. Reuters reports that this frames their financial discussions in terms of the end goal.

“They don’t want to hear about the growth or comparative performance of different funds; they want information about reaching their long-term goals, like putting a kid through college,” a recent article from The Wall Street Journal said.

A study from Hearts and Wallets found that women demand more than men from their financial services firms. Some important qualities women look for are that the adviser “explains things in understandable terms” and “clearly and understandably presented fees.” They also prefer to have a collaborative relationship with their financial adviser.

Before you decide that you’re going to target women, some words of caution. Financial advisers should refrain from making stereotypical assumptions about their client based on gender. Women participating in a July 2010 Boston Consulting Group study said they were frustrated by their adviser assuming they have a low risk tolerance and providing them with only a narrow range of investment solutions simply because of their gender. Others said they were shown “dumbed-down strategies” or offered strategies focusing on “social issues” – which might bear personal relevance, but should not be construed as a reasonable limitation due to gender.

While studies may indicate the inclination for women to take no or below-average investment risk, this does not mean they are accepting of this assumption. It would be a critical mistake for an adviser to assume women, due to their gender, have a low risk tolerance and would benefit from the offer of only a narrow range of investment solutions.

Be Proactive

The next time that top male client schedules a meeting with you, insist that he bring his spouse along. Remember, she is your client, too.

Article originally published on AccountingWeb.

  • Matt Callaghan on 7/05/2013 3:11:50 PM

    It's interesting that this article which is about not stereotyping, does exactly that. Heaven forbid your "top male client" brings a male spouse.

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