The client-advisor relationship is like any other — over time, the level of trust increases and the bond grows stronger. But when it comes to couples, have you considered what would happen to your client relationship if the more dominant client were to suddenly die? Just because one partner is more vocal, doesn’t mean that the other doesn’t have an opinion. It’s more common for married women to outlive their husbands and when that happens, aside from dealing with the emotional loss, these clients also face a number of financial decisions. Will you still be her advisor and have a client for life?

But a woman outliving her husband is only part of the equation. Let’s delve a little deeper into the opportunity for connecting with female investors and why it’s important — to you and them.

By the numbers

30 – the wage gap percentage between men and women1

$2.6 trillion – assets retirees will hold by 20222

80 – % of Canadian women who will leave their advisor within 18 months of their spouse’s death3

66 – % of female caregivers of aging parents4

5 – average number of years a woman will outlive a man1

What’s the opportunity?

Women generally spend more time in retirement than men simply because they live longer. Yet despite great strides in pay equality, women still earn as much as 30% less than men.1 Moreover, because women continue to play a primary caregiving role, many take time out of the workforce over the course of their careers, which means a lower Canada Pension Plan (CPP) payout and less money saved for retirement.

It’s estimated that by 2022, retirees will have $2.6 trillion in assets2 — money that’s likely to make its way into the hands of women as they inherit from their parents, husbands and in-laws — making women the sole financial decision makers in charge of their money following the death of a spouse.

And as the number of women with post-secondary degrees continues to grow, so too will the number of women who are the primary breadwinners for their families.

Why should I care?

When it comes to investing, men and women are wired differently, according to Sun Life Global Investments’ 2016 Market Sentiment Report. Of the 20% of respondents who sold some of their investments to raise cash, the majority of men said it was because of an opportunity to invest elsewhere. Meanwhile, women said it was because of a fear of losing money. These results suggest that when markets get rocky and emotions run high, tailored investment education and advice is especially important.

In addition, 80% of Canadian women change advisors within a year of their husband’s death.3 When asked why, the overwhelming response is that they don’t feel respected.

What can I do?

While every advisor has a strategy and a list of good qualifications behind their name, what’s important is to listen and understand how your female clients want to interact with you. Engage with them on their terms and earn the privilege of helping to manage the assets they control.

4 tips to help you make a positive connection with women investors

  • Don’t be quick to lay out a strategy that’s worked for other clients. Listen and hear what she’s saying and then offer a strategy that meets her needs.
  • Ask how she wants to connect with you, how often and what she expects from your relationship. She may not be comfortable coming to your office or may want an email with information to read over before your meeting. If she’s younger or new to financial planning, she may be expecting more frequent contact – especially during volatile markets.
  • Give evidence-based advice with illustrations and examples of how your recommendation can work for someone like her.
  • Get to know her as a person. Knowing her life story will give you more insight into her goals and aspirations.

4 ideas to help you get started

  • Create a mothers and daughters event — one of a mother’s greatest concerns is her daughter’s safety. One of a daughter’s greatest concerns is someone taking advantage of her elderly mother. Meet the next generation in a mother-daughter event that covers topics such as identity theft, securing assets and credit card theft.
  • Financial information for women lunch — host an annual luncheon for your single, divorced and widowed clients focused on empowering women to take control of their financial well-being. Invite them to bring a friend.
  • Caregiving for aging parents — 66% of caregivers are women.4 Addressing their challenges and providing resources can make you a hero to those clients and their friends dealing with aging parents.
  • Savvy women, smart investors — today’s woman faces unique financial pressures — raising a family, caring for parents, or saving for their own long-term goals. Host an event that reviews these challenges and offer tips specifically geared towards women.

Listening to her life goals, building customized opportunities to interact and providing collaborative advice are great ways to build strong relationships with women investors. She’ll value your approach when it resonates with her unique needs and you’ll be rewarded with a client for life.

You might also like…

1 The Gender Wage Gap, Pay Equity Commission, April 12, 2013.

2 Jacqueline Nelson, Globe and Mail, Women and wealth: The investment sector’s new – and crucial – frontier, Aug 9, 2014

3 Deanne Gage, “Suddenly Widowed”, FORUM Magazine, November/December 2012.

4 Family Caregiver Alliance, November 2012.

5 Ottawa Citizen, July 2016.