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Carissa Lucreziano, vice-president of financial and investment advice with CIBC.
What do women want in a financial advisor that’ll help empower them, and how can advisors deliver on it? This year’s International Women’s Day theme of Break the Bias serves as an important reminder for financial advisors to reflect on the importance of supporting women and to help them feel financially confident and empowered. In terms of breaking the bias, keep in mind that women are an influential force. Within the next six years, Canadian women will be in control of $3.8 trillion worth of financial assets. Understanding women’s financial intentions, career ambitions, and lifestyle goals is crucial. Keep in mind opportunities for connectivity regarding key life milestones, such as career change, changes in income, intergenerational inheriting, as well as the ongoing need to accumulate wealth.
From personal savings goals to how they approach investments, women have unique needs when it comes to their finances. Once we understand our female clients goals and ambitions and their competing priorities, we can deliver an enhanced advisory experience and secure a client for life. Advisors who are in tune with female clients can provide valuable and meaning advice with transparency. Addressing the unique financial situations women face is a key first step to making a meaningful connection. Women thrive when they have full visibility of their financial picture and this can encourage decisions for future planning, feeling confident with daily management of expenses, spending habits, investment strategies, not only for their family but for themselves as individuals is really important.
Advisors have the ability to bring these concepts to life and full circle with the approach to planning. Women can have deeper discussions around planning for the future when they are confident in their financial situation and trust has been built with their advisor. This includes conversations around things like estate planning and wealth preservation. We know that women outlive their male partners by about five years on average, which requires the need for income for a longer period of time. In which planning to make that income last through long-term investment strategies becomes very important. And we know that the stat remains high that 80% of women switch financial advisors after becoming widowed or divorced, primarily because they were not engaged and/or felt ignored in the advisor-client relationship. Women are looking for an advisor who speaks openly of their interests, connects on a personal level, and provides lasting benefits in preserving and accumulating wealth for them.
Here’s some key approaches to consider in your advisory practice. Discuss the big picture first and then address the details. Prepare insights and resources for takeaway. Help your female clients to fully understand their current financial situation, where they are in life, what goals and aspirations they have, and how their finances fit in. Build a financial plan that addresses the big picture you’ve discussed with them. The plan should be tailored to their financial situation.
Have safeguards for future uncertainties and help them to move forward to realize their goals. Encourage the conversation around investing and understand any barriers or opportunities for financial education and develop a personalized investment plan for her. Focus on her life’s milestones and goals. With a focus on broader milestones and goals, connect the dots between how specific investment strategies can possibly impact areas of women’s lives. For example, instead of focusing on the topic of RRSPs first, have a discussion about how she envisions lifestyle in retirement and what income would be needed to support this. Discuss her children’s future and learn about their educational aspirations and determine how an RESP could support this goal.
And finally, financial education is golden. Provide resources, introduce her to online tools, such as financial calculators, and extend invitations to financial wellness events. You can also provide financial education and support on topics that will vary by life stage and personal situations, addressing how to plan for financial considerations, such as how to plan for a career advancement, cash flow planning for supporting her and her family, where her or her spouse may be taking full or splitting paternity leave. In addition, any government resources, benefits, and programs associated with planning for life’s milestones is also important.
The need for a strong relationship based on trust and great advice tied to goals and aspirations are no different for female clients. It is the approach to the conversation and unique needs for planning that will cement that connectivity with our female clients.