Memo to Financial Advisors: Women Are Not Men!

Supposedly, Freud once posed the question: What do Women Want?

It seems to me the Financial Industry is still trying to figure that out. (But then again, aren’t most men?)

Smart Money reports that over 70% of women feel underserved and dissatisfied with the financial-planning services they receive.

This crazy economy has handed advisors a golden opportunity to reach out to women…who know they need help and, according to the question I get most often, are desperately looking for advisors they can trust.

Here’s where I believe the financial industry has missed the boat. Advisors are talking to women just like they do men…because the financial world is based on the male model of communication. Big mistake.

Women are not men!

Obvious, right? But clearly, the financial industry just hasn’t gotten that memo.

Just so you know, I’m a big fan of financial professionals. I’ve had the same advisor for 11 years (after going through nine others that didn’t get the memo either). I even wrote a booklet, “How to Find A Financial Advisor You Can Trust.”

Sadly, the bulk of advisors (I’m including both sexes) still live in the dark ages when it comes to their female clients.

So, as a public service, I offer a list of 6 things I wish the financial industry understood about women. (Note to readers: feel free to show this list to your advisor.)

1. Women are all about relationships. Men are transaction oriented. Men communicate to obtain info, establish status, and show independence. Women are ‘other’ oriented. Women communicate to create relationships and make connections. So when dealing with women, think in terms of ‘connecting with’ rather than ‘selling to.’

2. Inspire rather than frighten. The industry seems to think the best way to motivate women is with scary statistics and worst case scenarios. But fear produces paralysis in many women. If you want to motivate a woman, speak to what inspires her, NOT what scares her. While men define success as being in control, women define success is how well they can help others (it’s that relationship thing!). So, instead of filling her with fear, show her how informed investing allows her to help people she loves and causes she’s passionate about.

3. Educate her. While men prefer to learn through trial and error, women want to be taught. A study by Deloitte & Touche found that 90% of women expected their advisor to provide education and guidance rather than “sell them on effective investment practices.” And never assume just because a woman wears a designer suit or has an executive title, she’s savvy with her own money.

4. Think seminars. Women enjoy seminars because they love to gather in groups, talk among themselves, network, exchange views, hear they’re not alone. But make sure the seminar you’re offering is really designed for women and not just a generic clone. Women have distinct issues around money, different from men, due to their upbringing, cultural conditioning, and emotional blocks. Address, don’t avoid, those issues. (Shameless plug: I offer two turn-key seminars designed specifically for women that I created specifically for financial advisors.

5. Show respect. Treat women as intelligent adults. I’m aghast at how many advisors still tend to patronize women, address only the husband, or speak ‘financialese’ Being treated with dignity is a big deal for women. We want to feel listened to, understood, given choices and time to make our decisions. When we say “I’ll think about it” it doesn’t mean no…it usually means we’re going to kick around the ideas with others, which is what we do!

6. Address her emotions. This is a tough one for advisors, to whom talk of emotions is too touchy feely. But like it or not, money is a highly emotional topic for most women. It’s been our forbidden fruit. You don’t have to be a shrink (though many advisors now partner with therapists or coaches). Ask questions, allow her to talk about her fear, listen to her feelings, slowly educate her, and focus on inspiring rather than scaring her.

This is, by no means, a definitive list. But it’s a good beginning. I’m curious. What you would add? Talk to me in the comments below.

About Paul Nichols

Paul is the founder of Financial Abundance, a Registered Investor Advisory firm and EDI, an Estate Planning Firm with offices in State College and Lewisburg. He has been working with individuals, families and businesses for over twenty years, including many Fortune 500 companies. He has educated tens of thousands of people through seminars, workshops and various international speaking engagements where he shared the stage with many notable individuals such as Ronald Reagan, Robert Kiyosaki (author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad), Mike Ditka, General Schwarzkopf, and Newt Gingrich to name a few.

In 2000, after many years of traveling to consult companies and individuals, Paul decided to relocate from Colorado to State College, PA (his wife’s hometown) to develop a local advisory firm.

Paul operates under the core belief that education plus understanding leads to clarity and confidence; resulting in peace of mind. He is a proud father of three and devoted husband of 20 plus years.

Some of Paul’s accomplishments:
Regular contributor to the Centre Daily Times, via the “It’s Your Money” blog
Featured in the movie Navigating the Fog of Investing
Regular contributor to Town & Gown as the publications Investor Coach
Host of the weekly iTunes Podcast, It’s Your Money
Member of the Western PA Better Business Bureau
Member of the Centre County Chamber of Business and Industry