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How to Really Attract Women Clients

By Walecia Konrad December 19, 2016

Women are the new men when it comes to the financial advice industry. Financial advisors are finally learning what statistics bear out — women are more confident financial decision-makers and have more assets than ever before. Women are set to control two-thirds of the nation’s wealth by the year 2030 and will inherit 70% of the money that gets passed down over the next two generations, for a total of $25 trillion.

Fully aware of this vibrant new “Sheconomy,” advisors have been looking for effective ways to attract women clients.

“Attracting women doesn’t just mean changing the font on your brochure to pink,” says Heather Ettinger, Managing Partner at Fairport Asset Management in Cleveland, Ohio and co-author of several reports on women for the Family Wealth Advisors Council. Fairport manages $1.2 billion.

One of the most important steps advisors can take to attract women investors is to avoid lumping them all together.

“This is not a homogeneous group. What a widow needs, what a primary breadwinner needs, what a trailing spouse needs and what a divorced woman need are all different. You have to understand what’s unique about each woman,” says Ettinger.

That’s why Ettinger offers plenty of resources, both inside and outside the firm, for all types of financial questions regarding taxes, estate planning, executive coaching, and more. A recent example: One of her clients landed an attractive, high-level position in the healthcare industry but she wasn’t thrilled with the compensation. Ettinger, knowing the CEO of the prospective company, helped coach her client to successfully negotiate a generous allowance for professional development and participation in industry events above and beyond her salary.

What’s more, Ettinger says, women refer more business than men, and they tend to refer across generations. This is important for advisors looking to expand their business further into Gen X and Millennials – two age groups somewhat skeptical of the financial advice industry.

Heather Ettinger

Be a financial advocate

“I have three sisters, a strong mother and no brothers,” says Stanley Corey, a family lawyer and managing director of United Capital’s Great Falls, Va. office. United Capital, based in Newport News, Calif., has $17.1 billion under management. Corey’s clientele is mostly female and, as author of “The Divorce Dance,” he often focuses on the special needs of divorced women.

When working with a woman who is going through a divorce, Corey suggests advisors remember that this is an emotional time. “You can’t be in a hurry to sell yourself.” These women are time-strapped and faced with myriad financial questions and challenges, from “How will I pay the bills?” to “Who gets the pension?”

“I treat each woman the way I treat everyone — as a unique person. As an industry we spend too much time analyzing how to market to women. We’re marketing to people who need financial guidance,” says Corey.

And women, especially divorced women, need guidance for their particular situation.

Build a lasting relationship

“We focus on three categories of women with distinct and sometimes overlapping needs,” says Sharon Allen, president and co-founder of Sterling Wealth Management in Champaign, Ill. There are the ‘sandwich women’ who are caught between taking care of children and caring for aging parents; the ‘executive women’ concerned with making the most of compensation and benefits packages; and then there are the women business owners who have a host of special financial concerns.

With all three groups, you’re balancing their lack of time with their wish for a meaningful relationship with their advisor, says Allen, whose firm manages $105 million. “To achieve that balance, we try to find where women’s pressure points are, then relieve some of that pressure.

For instance, once a year Allen can coordinate with a woman’s CPA to facilitate a comprehensive tax planning session that’s in line with the client’s financial plan. Or Allen may put a client who is interested in establishing more targeted and organized charitable giving together with an estate planning or philanthropy expert. It’s also not unusual for Allen to review the investments and other finances of a client’s aging parent to make sure they are appropriately situated. “We try to take that weight off the client,” says Allen.