Not playing golf a big handicap for female advisers: Survey

Prospecting stymied, survey reveals; 'you don't have to be great at it'

May 10, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

By Andrew Osterland

Want to improve your relationships with your clients, increase your exposure to new potential clients and generally open up opportunities to expand your business? Learn how to swing a golf club, keep your head down and follow through toward your target.

“Get out on the golf course. That's where the action is and where the money is,” said Leslie Andrews, who along with partner Adrienne Wax launched a company to help female executives use golf as a business tool. Ms. Andrew and Ms. Wax spoke to a somewhat sparsely attended session at the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors conference in Chicago about how golf can help financial advisers in their business.

Ms. Andrews cited a study of female executives by MassMutual Financial Group that found that 73% of those who golf said it has helped them develop business relationships. Forty six percent of women cited exclusion from informal networks as the biggest impediment to their careers.

“Golf is the biggest informal network of them all,” said Ms. Andrews, who is a 7 handicap. “You don't have to love it and you don't have to be great at it. But you do need to use it as tool to reach your clients and colleagues.”

Unlike men, women tend to believe that they have to be good at the game to go out and golf with others. Ms. Wax recalled seeing a woman with a beautiful golf swing at a driving range and asked her what her handicap was. “She'd never been on a golf course, because she said she wasn't good enough,” said Ms. Wax, who is an 11 handicap. “Women have this idea that they have to be perfect or have to be better than men just to participate.”

Much of their efforts in helping women to get on the golf course involve dispelling myths.

Myth 1: Most men are good at golf. “The reality is, they're not,” Ms. Wax said. “Most people are mediocre at golf. You just need to be good enough to get out and use it as a business tool.”

Myth 2: You have to be an athlete to play. “It's not about being athletic; it's about perseverance and desire to get better,” Ms. Wax said.

Myth 3: Women aren't welcome on the golf course. In fact, it's the exact opposite. “The industry is desperate to bring women to the game,” Ms. Andrews said. “It's a great time to join a private club. The economy has crushed a lot of them.”

Myth 4: Men don't want to play with women. “It's just not true,” Ms. Andrews said. “Men like to be around women. Why wouldn't they want to golf with them?”

Jovita Honor, a financial adviser with Founders Financial Network LLC, didn't raise her hand when Ms. Andrews initially asked who in the audience was a golfer. “I have clubs and I've taken lessons, but I'm not comfortable going out there with people I don't know,” Ms. Honor said.

The presentation, however, seems to have changed her mind. “Ok, I'm a golfer.”


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