While conducting the research that drove commentary at our Women’s Roundtable Discussion, our research team also gathered dozens of verbatim comments from women advisors that speak to the differences between male and female clients.
Specifically, those surveyed were asked what differences they saw in servicing their female clients compared to their male clients.
Some claim they made every effort to treat clients equally. “I can’t see specific differences in servicing by gender,” notes one respondent. “The differences are more prevalent in demographics and life and financial experiences of the client.”
Women vs. men
Most, however, believe there are marked differences.
“Female clients are more emotional and focused on their goals than most male clients,” writes one advisor.
Another notes: “Female clients need more handholding and analogies to understand the concepts. They’re more interested in the relationship you can foster with them. Male clients tend to just want the information and the plan and how it will affect their goals.”
This view is echoed by a number of those surveyed, though it became clear they were referring for the most part to a specific subgroup of female clients:
“Older female clients [are] prone to needing more handholding,” says a respondent.
Another is even more specific: “I work with a large number of widows, and lots of females were taken care of financially by their husbands.”
One advisor speaks articulately about this group of women clients. “Single females at or nearing retirement,” she remarks, “are at significantly more financial risk than their single male counterparts.
“They’ve generally made and saved less money on average, they were most likely to have abdicated their financial decisions to someone else and they fall victim to tax rules, which favour couples. They’re less likely to become re-married and most likely to have a longer lifespan.”
To counter these circumstances, she suggests female clients “need to be approached in a way that empowers them to believe they can take control over their finances and that understanding money is not beyond them.”
Empowerment takes hold
But they say things are changing.
“Women are becoming much more aware,” one respondent asserts. “They handle the purse strings and are concerned.”
And “there’s more education to do with females because they want to learn,” another advisor says. “They’re not know-it-alls.”
We’re not sure if this means male clients are “know-it-alls” in some women advisors’ eyes, but the number of similar responses suggest this may be the case.
“Females…know they don’t know enough,” an advisor adds. “Men feel they should know it all already, so you can’t teach them from the ground up in many situations.”
And again: “Females are more direct in asking questions, wanting more contact, more of a social experience when meeting.” Males, on the other hand, “hedge on asking questions, and are often uncomfortable discussing finances.”
The female edge
From the responses, it’s abundantly clear female advisors perceive marked differences between men and women. But does that mean these advisors have an edge when dealing with their female clients?
“Being female, it’s easier to relate to females than males,” reports one advisor.
“It’s easier to identify with the feelings and financial needs of women,” another agrees. “The connection through empathy happens more frequently.”
And clients seem to agree.
“I find female clients sometimes trust me more easily or build an easier rapport with me, as they find comfort and similarities working with someone of the same sex,” notes a respondent.
“Building a personal relationship is more important with female clients than with males,” says another. “Males tend to segregate finances from other life issues, while females incorporate them into discussions.”
It’s all about service
So what, besides a personal connection, can an advisor do to ensure a female client continues on the path to financial success?
“I position myself as a resource person,” says one respondent. “If I don’t have the answer, I can put [female clients] in touch with someone who does. I make sure I’m easily accessible and patient.”
As another advisor puts it: “Women want to learn, [so] servicing must be consistent and an emotional connection [must be] made. Loyalty will result.”
Originally published in Advisor's Edge Report
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