Stereotypes wreck KYC

By Melissa Shin | March 7, 2014 | Last updated on November 8, 2023
2 min read

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, and you may have noticed an onslaught in other media outlets of coverage about female investors.

Much of it hinges on the notion that women are more risk-averse and know less about investing than men.

We’ve consciously decided to skip that craze. Why?

Think of it this way: You expect to hear from great advisors. Many such advisors are female. But we don’t showcase them because they’re women. We showcase their processes, skills, expertise and philosophies.

Read: Patient capital

And we take a similar view when we look at clients.

While women may invest differently from men, it’s equally true that doctors may invest differently than schoolteachers. Recent university grads may invest differently than self-made millionaires. People who grew up poor may invest differently than those who’ve been comfortable their whole lives.

Read: Majority of women are breadwinners

Women are more than their gender, which makes it dangerous for advisors to accept stereotypes as absolute truth. You’ll blow the KYC, and end up putting those clients into unsuitable investments.

Advisors consistently tell me a top concern is conducting thorough discovery. That means getting clients to articulate what’s truly important to them; fully explain their aversion to, or affinity for, risk; enumerate their real goals; and reveal the skeletons in their closets.

One surefire way to halt that conversation (and, potentially, to lose a prospect) is to open with incorrect assumptions.

So stop relying on tired tropes. We did.

Read: Stop talking down to women

The right way to celebrate International Women’s Day is not by singling out female investors or advisors once a year. It’s integrating the voices and needs of women – all of them – into what we do every day.

Melissa Shin headshot

Melissa Shin

Melissa is the editorial director of and leads Newcom Media Inc.’s group of financial publications. She has been with the team since 2011 and been recognized by PMAC and CFA Society Toronto for her reporting. Reach her at You may also call or text 416-847-8038 to provide a confidential tip.