Are women really risk-averse?

Research suggest that many women lack confidence when it comes to finances.

While there are numerous factors that may prevent women from investing — such as risk aversion and a lack of financial knowledge — financial advisors need to take an active role in building women’s confidence as investors.

Many advisors fail to connect with women clients, even though women make up a largely underserved market.

“Women feel sometimes that their planners don’t take a lot of time to fully understand what makes them different,” says Nancie Taylor, senior wealth advisor at Meridian Credit Union in Fonthill, Ont.

While every client is unique, there are steps you can take to relate better to the experiences that women investors face.

Taylor shares her approach to developing trust among female clients:

> Go beyond the basics during portfolio reviews
A brief rundown of your client’s performance that focuses on the rate of return isn’t enough to make your client feel engaged, Taylor says. You have to give context to your discussion, citing issues such as your client’s progress toward long-term goals and product recommendations.

You must relate such recommendations to your client’s individual circumstances, says Taylor. For example, if there’s a product that you want her to consider, explain how it might help her achieve her specific goals.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all solution,” Taylor says. “They want to know that the [financial plan] is tailored to them.”

Otherwise, if you place too much emphasis numbers and products, some women may start to question whether you understand their needs, Taylor says. They may also feel that you are talking down to them.

> Take extensive notes
Before every client meeting, Taylor makes a point of consulting notes she took at the previous appointment with that client. She records information that she deems important to her clients — details about their families, hobbies and jobs.

Taylor a takes genuine interest in catching up with what’s happening her client’s life because it allows her to refine her approach. When reviewing her client’s financial plan, Taylor asks for feedback, giving the client an opportunity to ask questions.

“If they do a lot of the talking, that’s a good sign,” says Taylor. “Women give a lot of detailed information, and that’s helpful for a financial planner.”

> Talk openly about fees
A big part of any client’s education should be about how the fees they pay tie in to the services they receive. Instead of waiting for your client to ask, proactively start the conversation about your fee structure.

Says Taylor: “Women tend to really want to understand the fees.”

This is the second part in a two-part series on working with women clients.

Click here for part one.

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