It’s one thing to attract new female clients to your practice. Keeping them is another matter. To do that you may have to change some of the ways you do business, especially if you’re used to working primarily with men.
Women look at money differently from the way men do, says Rhonda Sherwood, a wealth advisor with ScotiaMcLeod Inc. in Vancouver.
“Unlike men, who see wealth as conveying power, control and status,” Sherwood says, “women generally view money as security for themselves and their families and see it as providing the freedom and independence to make choices.”
Here are four tips to help you build long-term relationships with your female clients:
1. Watch your language
Women are more relationship-oriented than men, who are more transaction-oriented. So, men and women talk about money differently. Men focus their discussions on technical matters, such as asset allocation and returns, while women tend to talk about emotional matters: what’s important in their lives, who they want to protect and how they want to live.
“Women respond well to collegial language, words like ‘we’, ‘our’, ‘us’ and ‘feel’,” says Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, principal of Vermont-based KBK Wealth Connection and author of Women and Wealth: A Guide for Advising Affluent Female Clients.
Kingsbury suggests you focus on how earnings (or losses) will affect a woman’s real-life goals and aspirations.
“You can illustrate your client’s progress by saying, ‘These returns are in line with your goal of sending your children to university,’ or, ‘If your investments continue at this rate of return, you’re on track to pass on significant wealth to the next generation’.”
2. Be honest
Men and women are also different when it comes to admitting uncertainty. “For men, not knowing is seen as a sign of weakness,” Kingsbury says. “In a woman’s world, it’s okay to admit that you don’t know something. It’s actually seen as a strength.”
When you’re unsure about something, admit it. Then, find out the answer and follow up with the client.
3. Don’t try to “fix” her
Financial advisors are trained to resolve issues and provide solutions, and sometimes they’re too quick to try to fix things, says Eleanor Blayney, president of Directions for Women, a Virginia-based firm that trains financial advisors to work with women.
“Women don’t like or want to be ‘fixed,’ so don’t tell them what to do. For example, don’t say, ‘Stop spending so much money.’ A woman already knows she needs to curb her spending but she needs to process that information fully.”
4. Provide education
Some, generally younger, women are very money-savvy. But many other women could benefit from improving their financial literacy.
“Women generally come later to the financial marketplace, so they may be less conversant with it and feel they need more education,” says Blayney. “Providing that education is a new and important role for advisors.”
Ask your client if she wants to receive information from you and, if so, in what form. Then, arrange a time to discuss that information.
This process can be time-consuming and advisors who are sales-oriented need to understand this, says Blayney, adding, “It takes time to answer questions and provide explanations but it will pay off in the end.”
This is the second part in a two-part series on dealing with women clients.