[caption id="attachment_435" align="alignleft" width="240"] Heather Coulter[/caption]
Overall, the financial services industry continues to overlook the need to specifically educate and advise women, even as they gain increased control over money and finances. But advisors ignore women at their peril. Think about it. Women typically outlive men, extending their investment landscape and they frequently act as primary household money managers. But, do women really need gender-specific financial advice?
Yes and no.
When it comes to gender, the bulk of financial advice is essentially the same. Of course, some women – like newly widowed or divorced – may require a specially tailored financial plan. But, you could argue the same for divorced or widowed men.
So, what’s the big deal?
Today, American women receive university level educations at higher rates than men and enjoy more satisfying careers than ever before; yet, they remain less educated and confident than men about investing and other financial matters. This means that even if the advice is nearly the same, women need financial advisors that will take the time to educate them and help them build confidence in this important area of life.
Financing and Rocking the Cradle – That’s Powerful
Women from both high income and lower income environments have considerable influence over almost every aspect of life, including money. Back in 2010, CAIM, LLC released their research study, What Women Want: Understanding the Modern Female Investor, which involved 500 women participants. According to the study, American women directly control 33 percent of all wealth in North America and influence over much of the rest. Both lower- and higher-income participants reported concern about their current and future financial horizons.
Where Financial Advisors Fail Women
Other experts, cited in the CAIM study, indicate that 70% of American women who seek the advice of financial professional are disappointed and unhappy with their experiences. Look at a few areas where financial advisors failed to put women clients at ease:
- Selling sunshine – advisors constantly tried to sell products and other add-ons that the women didn’t fully understand and made them feel uncomfortable
- Cluttered desk, cluttered mind – disorganization bothers some people and others simply don’t mind it. But when it comes to money and investing, women were turned off by a cluttered office space, saying it made them feel that the advisor’s investing and money management practices were disorganized as well.
- He said, she said – advisors that couldn’t adequately explain financial concepts and strategies to their female clients made them uncomfortable. Even worse, many women reported that their advisors became impatient with their elementary understanding of financial matters.
- Wham, bam, thank you ma’am – advisors need to spend time with their clients and get to know the details of their lives and goals intimately. This requires at least one or two annual face-to-face visits with each visit taking as long as it takes. Just like with their male counterparts, advisors should make their women clients feel as if they’re the only and most important client they have.
- Promises of Grandeur – even the least knowledgeable women can sniff out an ROI rat. Advisors who promised women outrageous returns and wealth didn’t get a second date.
- Inadequate credentials – advisors who did not openly display proof of certifications and credentials made women clients suspicious, but not all of them insisted they prove their credentials – a mistake that could prove financially devastating.
- Disrespect and condescension – women complained that the advisor spoke only to their male spouses and even ignored their questions, chuckled at their ignorance, and cut them off when they were talking. Seriously? Yes.
Although female advisors may have the advantage, male advisors can connect and build strong client relationships with women too. The first step is recognizing that even though advice is the same or similar, women need more help understanding the products and strategies. They want an advisor that actively listens to their questions and concerns. Just like men, women want to feel like a partner in developing their financial plan and roadmap.
Sound off on the topic by sharing your thoughts and experiences with us below. We always respond.
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Posted on Thu, July 25, 2013
by Heather Coulter