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Advisors still missing mark when aiming at women

Brian Anderson

If demographics, statistics and anecdotal evidence are to be believed, there remains a big opportunity for insurance and financial advisors to flourish by successfully focusing on building a female clientele.

I know – in other news, sun still sets in the west, Pope remains Catholic. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll undoubtedly hear it again. It was brought to my attention again this week while reading about a presentation by Sallie Krawcheck, MBA, owner of professional women’s networking organization Ellevate, during the opening general session of the IMCA 2015 New York Consultants Conference in New York City.

Krawcheck noted in her presentation women retirees now control about two-thirds of the investable assets held by men, and that women live on average six to eight years longer than men.

Krawcheck laid out the laundry list of concerns women have with the advisor community:

• A lack of understanding the financial needs and concerns of women.

• Women often feel that advisors tend to have a condescending or patronizing attitude toward them.

• Too many advisors don’t understand women care more about safe and secure planning than about where stocks are headed, products or Monte Carlo simulations. They fear someday having to work at Walmart instead of enjoying retirement.

The net result of this disconnect? It is estimated that 70% of widowed women change their financial advisor with a year of their spouse’s death (Allianz’ “Women, Money and Power” study, June 2008).

I’ve read all kinds of statistics that build a case for focusing on building a clientele of women. Study after study shows that about two-thirds of women manage the family budget and are responsible for more than 80% of consumer purchases. More than 90% of women at some point in their lives are going to be the primary financial decision maker in their household. By age 65 the majority of women are single, and 70% of inheritances go to women. One study even says 80% of men die married, but 80% of women die single.

Transition issues including divorce, the death of a spouse, a career change, pending retirement, or challenges associated with being part of the “sandwich generation” often define what type of help women need from an advisor. If you are a producer who uses life insurance or annuities to help solve problems for clients, affluent women would seem like an attractive demographic that would get a lot of attention. But it still doesn’t seem to be the case. And it’s not just about targeting women in your marketing – it’s also about being inclusive of both spouses when working with your current clients. Why do so many advisors regard the husband as the “primary” client? When you haven’t been including the wife in your consultations, is it any wonder so many women switch to a different advisor after the husband dies?

At last summer’s Advisor Network Summit in Las Vegas, I listened to a presentation titled, “Marketing to Women: Get it right,” by Rebecca True, of True Capital Advisors.

True said women are not a niche market and one size does not fit all. She said women have a distinct lack of trust when it come to the financial industry and advisors, saying nearly 3 in 4 women are dissatisfied with the industry. They are too often overlooked and excluded. Yet they are more receptive to advice because they worry more.

And if you are thinking women only want to work with women advisors, think again. True said only 11% of women prefer working with a female advisor, and that 85% don’t care gender-wise.

Here are several other observations from True’s presentation:

• Women like to learn in groups and are more collaborative

• They like personal introductions to financial advisors

• They like real-life examples more than charts and graphs

• Women prioritize their families above all else

• They tend to take less risk with investments

• Women are more focused on the solution than performance

• Women are masters at networking and refer often

Women want an authentic advisory experience relevant to their individual situation. Advisors who understand and can provide this stand to attract a lot of women.

• Care to comment or have some ideas to share on how to reach this market? Please share via this new thread.



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