Chantel McNeily

In a 2009 Harvard Business Review issue titled The Female Market, one of the articles identified the industry with the greatest potential for marketing to women, one where women were under-served but most likely to spend.

Financial services topped the list, revealing an enormous opportunity to serve this market better.

Reality check: 2019

It’s been 10 years since that review was written and 87% of women still say they cannot find an advisor they can connect with1. It’s a problem worth solving. In Canada alone, women control 1.1 trillion dollars of wealth2, and that number will grow to over 3 trillion dollars by 20243. Would more female advisors in the business help to solve female client dissatisfaction?

When I talk to female advisors who are struggling or who have left the business, it is usually because of an imbalance in different elements of their life. The Japanese concept of “ikigai” can be a helpful tool in exploring this – and finding the better balance female advisors need to thrive personally and professionally and finding the qualities we need to enforce as an industry to attract more women as financial advisors.

Individual balance – “ikigai” explained

The word ikigai typically refers to the source of value in your life – what makes your life worthwhile.

Your ikigai balances four elements as shown in the graphic4 below:

  • What you love (your passion)
  • What the world needs (your mission)
  • What you are good at (your vocation)
  • What you can get paid for (your profession)

ikagai a japanese concept
Click here to enlarge image

Your ikigai is personal to you and specific to your life, values and beliefs. And while the elements of your ikigai should never be forced in an attempt to achieve balance, a focus on “bringing out” certain traits that you already have can be instrumental in achieving balance and individual satisfaction.

The most successful female advisors that I’ve met have all put a conscious effort and focus on developing four pillars. Each of these exists within one of the ikigai circles and can help you achieve better professional and personal balance.  

  • Pillar #1: Be confident (what you are good at). You are good at what you do, be confident in that. Own the differentiating factors that make you unique, and clearly articulate the strengths and values that you bring to clients.
  • Pillar #2: Own your influence (what you love). No two advisors are alike, so share your unique value proposition. Leverage social media and your impact on the community to grow your influence and grow your client base with people who believe what you believe. Speaker and consultant Simon Sinek said it best: “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
  • Pillar #3: Embrace risk and failure (what the world needs).I’ve talked to many female advisors who are afraid to present to affluent clients because they doubt their ability to add value. This fear is holding them back from being as successful as they could be. Get comfortable with the word no and the ambiguity of not having all the answers.
  • Pillar #4: Control your time, be confident in your worth (what you can be paid for). As women, we tend to put our needs last. In my own conversations with female advisors, I have found they go above and beyond to serve the needs of their clients, and yet do not always relate that time and effort to actions that lead to revenue. There are approximately 1,632 market hours in a year, so think about the income you earn on an hourly basis. Be confident in articulating the value of your time and ensure you have efficient processes built into your business to ensure you are aligning the effort you are putting in to the value of your time.

Find your balance for better

The most successful female advisors have found that near-perfect balance of doing what they are good at (working with people), doing what they love (helping clients), contributing to what the world needs (financial advice and guidance) and doing what they can be paid for (clearly understanding the value of their time).

While this does not happen overnight, a conscious effort today to focus on traits that can help bring these four elements into alignment can yield tremendous life and professional satisfaction in the years ahead.

1 Strategy Marketing, Advisors are failing women, 2015

2 Boston Consulting Group, Leveling the playing field – Upgrading the Wealth Management experience for women, July 2010

3 Investor Economics Retail Brokerage and Distribution report, Fall 2015

4 Source: The Toronto Star

Chantal McNeily is a Wealth Sales Director at Sun Life Financial.