What you should know about working with women, Pt. 2

By Ryan Parker

Bankers Annuity Brokerage


In part one of this series, we discussed a few fascinating statistics and considered what the sea change in traditional gender roles means to the strategies today's financial advisors use to engage their female prospects and clients, no matter their marital status.

In part two, we’ll review even more astonishing statistics as we continue exploring the new world of women and investing, and how you can not only learn to serve female clients beyond their expectations, but also become the go-to advisor in your area.

As we left off on the subject of what women want when it comes to their ideal advisor, it’s only appropriate that we pick up with what women decidedly do not want from their financial services professional.

What women don’t want

Women today are better educated and more financially informed than ever before, and loathe to be patronized or marginalized. Today’s women certainly have a voice when it comes to their financial plans, and you’d do well to listen. In a recent survey of women investors conducted by Boston Consulting Group, the prevailing sentiment among respondents was that “they routinely feel underserved by the financial services industry.” A staggering 70 percent of the women surveyed indicated they felt dissatisfied with the service they receive. Some of the chief complaints included:
  • Disrespectful advisors
  • Fewer or narrower investment choices attributed to advisors’ assumptions that women are ill-equipped to deal with investment risks
  • Cutesy and patronizing sales pitches aimed at attracting women clients
If you want to talk to the decision makers…

You’ve got it, talk to the woman in the room. This is not to suggest that you ignore the husband if you’re working with a couple, but you definitely want to ensure you spend as much time — if not more — addressing the woman in your presentation or consultation.

If you’re working with a single woman, realize that she’s already on her game, and expects to be treated as such. In the past, men controlled most of the financial decision making — including household items and appliances, vehicles, and, of course, insurance policies and investment accounts. But my, how things have changed. Just take a look at these eye-opening statistics from a book titled, "Marketing to Women:"
  • Women control 89 percent of all financial account openings and write 80 percent of all checks, both business and personal
  • Women are responsible for the purchasing decisions for 91 percent of all home sales
  • Thirty-three percent of single women buy homes, compared to just 13 percent of single men
  • Of married women, 66 percent keep investment accounts separate from their husbands
  • A full 50 percent of stock market investors are women
  • Eighty-one percent of all U.S. consumer purchases are made by women
  • Women own more than half the businesses in the country
  • Women plan or purchase 92 percent of all vacations
Women not only represent 51 percent of the global population, they also represent power and wealth. With their longer life expectancies, families to care for, careers to build and dreams to attain, they’re no longer content to sit silently to the side. Ultimately, they’ll need a professional advisor who’s both knowledgeable and sensitive to their needs and expectations, so if you truly want to have a long-lived and prosperous practice, you must learn how to engage and successfully work with women — and you can start with the statistics covered in these articles.

They’re no great mystery, but women are different from your male clients in just enough ways to keep you on your toes. And that can be a good — thing now, and well into the future.