The economy is not down, it's different. Success today requires a new set of skills and strategies to get ahead and build your advisory business. No longer does the professional with the most transactions win. Instead, it is a world where relationships trump product sales, and high-quality customized service is the path to profitability.
The good news is this economy is tailor-made for female financial advisers. Why? Because most women naturally possess the emotional intelligence required to attract, retain and deepen client relationships. While you can always improve on these skills, it is intuitive for females to connect with others and outwardly demonstrate they care. This is distinctly different than how most male advisers interact with clients and it creates a wonderful competitive advantage for you as you build your practice. To succeed in the current market place, you need to stop trying to be “one of the boys” and start celebrating your feminine side.
Here are the top 10 reasons why female advisers are perfect for this economy:
1. Soft skills translate into hard results
Today's consumers are more informed than ever. They have a myriad of choices and information at their fingertips as a result of the Internet and online technology. What tips them over the edge is not a particular product or service, but how you communicate, collaborate and show them that you are in their corner. In the current economy, soft skills are the key to profitability.
2. Collaboration is key
Women are collaborative by nature. Female leaders employ this philosophy and individual professionals grow their book of business using teamwork and win/win strategies. Many of today's clients want advisers who act as coaches and collaborate on alternatives, making female advisers poised for success.
3. Good listeners attract and retain clients
The No. 1 reason clients fire advisers is their failure to listen. While this sounds simple, active listening requires energy and a commitment to put yourself in your clients' shoes. Women are especially skilled in this area as they are socialized at a very early age to be relationship-oriented. Men, conversely, are socialized to be independent and fix problems. They typically don't rate as high compared with female advisers in their ability to listen for understanding before taking action.
4. Details matter
This is an economy where the little things matter; following up and following through, remembering birthdays, anniversaries and small, yet important, events that matter to clients. The female brain is actually wired to notice details, making women great at remembering and noticing what really counts — big and small.
5. Patience is a virtue
The economy is moving slowly and clients are taking longer to make hiring and investing decisions. Therefore, being patient is vital to your success. As most women realize, relationship building takes time and openly aggressive sales tactics often fall flat for clients. Women know, both as consumers as well as professionals, that you must begin an adviser-client relationship by fostering trust through an authentic connection and then asking for the sale.
6. The emotional side of money is important
Today's clients want to talk about more than the technical aspects of investing. They want to discuss their thoughts and feelings about their money. Female advisers tend to be more comfortable talking about emotions and don't feel the same pressure male advisers do to find solutions.
7. Empathy translates into loyalty
A white paper by the Financial Planning Association concluded that clients who perceive their advisers as empathetic and interested in understanding their unique life circumstances are 3.7 times more loyal, 9.7 times more likely to follow the advisers' recommendations and 4.1 times more likely to refer their family and friends. Empathy is a quality that comes easily for women and clearly is a good thing for client retention and business growth.
8. Women's economic power is on the rise
Women control the majority of personal wealth the in the United States and are due to inherit 70% of the $41 trillion in intergenerational wealth transfers. At the same time, the number of women-owned businesses is growing at twice the national rate and four out of 10 women are the primary breadwinners in their homes. Research shows that affluent female clients select advisers based on their listening skills and ability to understand their unique financial planning and retirement challenges — something women do naturally.
9. Female advisers are in demand
In April, the Certified Financial Planning Board published a report titled, “Making Room for Women in the Financial Planning Profession.” This study found that while the industry is still dominated by men, the need for more female advisers is growing. Efforts are being made to recruit more women, support them in attaining the CFP credential and making sure they have an equal playing field going forward.
10. Women rock
Put a group of professional women in a room together and you can feel the energy. It's electric, hopeful, creative and just what is needed to succeed in this economy.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury is a wealth psychology expert, founder of KBK Wealth Connection, and author of several books including How to Give Financial Advice to Women and How to Give Financial Advice to Couples, both published by McGraw-Hill.
Meridith Elliott Powell is a business growth expert, and president of MotionFirst, a company specializing in organizational growth and employee engagement. Ms. Powell is the author of several publications including Winning In The Trust & Value Economy and 42 Rules To Turn Prospects Into Customers.