With more financial advisors targeting women as a potentially lucrative source of new clients, a new online service aims to help advisors get exposure among prospects in this vast market.
Vancouver-based Know Your Advisor Inc., the company behind the Know Your Financial Advisor online database of advisors (www.kyfa.com), has teamed up with Winnipeg-based financial education website provider Golden Girl Finance Inc. (www.goldengirlfinance.ca) to create a tool to help female investors find advisors.
The interactive tool was launched in early April on goldengirlfinance.ca - a website established in 2010 that aims to educate women about investing and financial planning.
The service allows investors to search for advisors in their region among a pool of advisors listed on the site who specialize in financial planning for women.
"We're really connecting the audience to the advisor," says Christian Gradley, co-founder and CEO of KYFA. "Instead of chasing investors online, we want to be there in a very passive and user-friendly way, to present financial advisors in their [region] who can help them out with their particular needs."
KYFA, which launched in 2009, boasts a database of more than 50,000 financial advisors across Canada. Investors can already find an advisor by browsing the database on the KYFA website.
In addition, the company recently launched a matchmaking tool that helps investors identify the advisors best suited to meet their needs based on a variety of criteria, such as their financial priorities, risk tolerance and investment knowledge level.
The partnership with Golden Girl Finance is part of a new strategy by KYFA to give advisors more targeted exposure among investors who are actively seeking information in an advisor's specific area of expertise.
"When an investor is consuming financial services information, wherever they might be," says Gradley, "we want to put advisors who are focused on that specific specialty in front of them."
He says KYFA plans to roll out similar partnerships with other websites and organizations in the months ahead.
The relationship with Golden Girl Finance began after the co-founders of that website, Susan Misner and Laura McDonald, were approached by numerous users of their website who were seeking financial advisors. They realized that users of the Golden Girl Finance website could benefit from a mechanism allowing them to connect with advisors.
"Our goal with the website was to be that first step of engagement - getting women excited and engaged in the conversation about finance ... and then motivating them into action," Misner says. "Once they're motivated, they're going to want investment advice.
"We want to make sure," she adds, "that when women have done their due diligence and their research and they're ready to make some financial decisions, if they want advice, that it's easily found for them."
Gradley was keen to partner with Golden Girl Finance to help advisors get exposure to female investors - a large market that, he says, has been largely overlooked by the financial services industry: "I think everybody would agree that it was probably an underserved market for a while."
With research showing that women control a growing proportion of wealth - and that they are taking charge of household finances in greater numbers, Misner says, advisors will benefit from paying more attention to this market.
"Women are considered to be the household chief financial officer," Misner says. "They're running the budgets of the family, they're making the purchasing decisions. And I think it's very natural that's going to start extending more and more into financial products and services, and running the portfolio of the family. Advisors definitely need to be engaging with [women], bringing them into the office and making sure they're sitting at the table."
Gradley says he was surprised to see that many of the advisors listed in the KYFA database have already positioned their practices to target women. A handful have signed up to be listed on the Golden Girl Finance search tool so far, and KYFA is encouraging others to join. The goal for the tool is eventually to feature advisors from across the country.
"We really want to have a full service," Misner says, "where women looking for advice in any province will be able to connect with someone in their area who can serve their needs."
Advisors are charged $699 a year to feature their profile on the Golden Girl Finance search tool; in contrast, posting a profile on the KYFA website is free.
On both websites, advisors can personalize their profiles to include a photograph and information about their practice specialties, fee structure, designations and licences, education and experience.
To address compliance-related concerns, KYFA archives and logs advisors' usage of the site and allows advisors to send a preview of their profile to their firm's compliance officers before publishing it on the website.
"That should solve all of the compliance problems," says Gradley, who notes that these mechanisms will allow firms to comply with the social-media guidelines issued by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada in December.IE
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