In the traditional financial services sector, women have been categorically ignored. Advertising speaks to the men, with insurance spots telling men how to provide for their families and brokerage ads showing off their cool tools and apps. Women remain an underserved group of investors. If you are a smart advisor, though, you will embrace female clients, as they are the main money managers in most families. They also outlive their male counterparts, on average, and have longer investment horizons. But how does managing women investors differ from serving men?

Women in Finance
In 2010, CAIM LLC surveyed over 500 American women for their study, entitled What Women Want: Understanding The Modern Female Investor. The study recognized that women in North America directly control 33% of all wealth on the continent and influence much of the rest. Women are also more likely than men to seek financial advice. Women in lower income households reported that they were more concerned with basic financial products, such as insurance and college savings, whereas higher-wealth respondents sought more help with retirement planning and with boosting investment returns.

Even with this significant amount of wealth to control, women still represent a small proportion of investment clients in many financial services practices. Women often feel intimidated by financial planning. The CAIM study quotes from other research suggesting that over 70% of the women who do seek out financial advice are unhappy with their advisors and the advice they are given.

What Women Are Looking for
W
omen want exactly what men want in an advisor. They want to be given options, they want to have all of the information they need to make investment decisions and they want to feel like a partner in their financial planning. Yet many advisors treat women differently than men. They tell female clients what they need, expect them to trust the advisor's advice without question and they are dismissive of client concerns and needs.

The study concludes that women are seeking an ongoing relationship with their advisor, and they want someone who will take the time to listen to them and teach them financial skills. An advisor who takes the opportunity to do this can build their clientele around the financial needs of women. As women generally communicate better and more frequently than men, an enlightened advisor is likely to attract new female clients as their book of business grows.

Does this mean that you have to hire women advisors in your practice? Not necessarily. Consider female clients' needs for information and education. Hold investment education seminars. Start an investment blog in which you write about basic financial planning issues. Most importantly, don't make assumptions about clients' investment knowledge based on the amount of wealth they are managing. Cultivate your relationship with your female clients and be approachable when they have questions throughout the year. The more they know the more products they may be interested in.

The Bottom Line
Women's wealth is increasing and, as life expectancies rise, so too does their need for a solid financial plan. Savvy advisors will position themselves to meet this underserved market. Women want financial advisors who will work with them to preserve and build their wealth and plan for the future. The market is increasing while women's satisfaction with their current advisors and the advice they're getting is decreasing. Helping women understand financial products and strategies by educating them and listening to their concerns and needs is the best way to position your business in this burgeoning market.

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