Across Canada, financial advisors are scrambling to make themselves and their practices more female-friendly. And no wonder: on average, women outlive men by five to seven years. Women tend to be very loyal to those whose services they value, and they are much more likely than men to refer their advisor to family and friends.
Moreover, Canadian women now controlabout one-third of the country’s household wealth. Theyare earning more money than ever before and they’re set to inherit billions of dollars over the next several decades.
Women want financial advisors whotruly understand the challenges they face,says Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, principal of Vermont-based KBK Wealth Connection and author ofWomen and Wealth: A Guide for Advising Affluent Female Clients.”They wantadvisors who understand the psychology of women,” Kingsbury says, “and incorporate these principles into their practices.”
With that in mind, here are some tips for increasing the number of female clients in your practice:
1. Segment your market
Don’t try to be all things to all people, Kingsbury says. “Many advisors still view women as a homogeneous group,” she says, “rather than as unique individuals with specific needs.”
The women’s market includes multiple segments, from widows, divorcees and retirees to executives and entrepreneurs. Figure out who your ideal female client is — her traits, occupation and financial situation. Why would she want to work with an advisor? Does she have a family? Is she an inheritor? What keeps her awake at night? Focus on your ideal market segment and develop solutions that meet their needs.
2. Make connections
To meet prospective female clients, go to where they are.Seek out female-oriented groups and organizations, such ascommittees at the local museum, performing arts centre, sports groups or wherever your target demographic is likely to gather.
Sponsor themed events involvingdiscussions or presentations on topics such aslong-term care for elderly parents or financial literacy for college-aged kids. These events should be about relationship building, not selling, because women thrive on connection and enjoy sharing their experiences with others, says Eleanor Blayney, president of Directions for Women, a McLean, Virginia-basedfirm that trains advisors to work with women.
3. Get to know them
Get to know each prospective female client on a personal level before asking about her assets and net worth, Kingsbury says.
“Ask about her family, goals and challenges,” she says. “Women are much more likely to work with professionalswho have taken the time to build trust and credibility andwho show a genuine interest in them as people.”
4. Be Patient
Women don’t like to be rushed when making important decisions and they may ask more questions than their male counterparts. A woman may also want to discuss your ideas with the people who are important to her before making a commitment to you. That can annoy advisors who are anxious to make a sale, but resist the temptation to press the issue: it can backfire, leading her to call the whole thing off.
The key to success with female clients is active listening.That means paying attention to what she’s saying and reflecting it back to her to ensure accuracy. It also involves asking clarifying questions to get more information. Again, patience is key.