Survey proves, it all comes down to trust

Advisers share ways to interact with female clients and bolster retention

Jul 26, 2015 @ 12:01 am

By Ellie Zhu and Liz Skinner

Most Financial advisers do not have a plan in place to target female clients specifically, but the vast majority would like to add more women to their client roster.

The reasons why are pretty simple: Women live longer than men, they stand to inherit from their parents as well as their spouses and they are making more of the household financial decisions than ever.

Advisers are thinking carefully about how they interact with female clients, recognizing women have different financial worries than men and that they invest differently, according to an InvestmentNews survey of 774 financial advisers early this month.

Strategy for attracting female clients
Source: InvestmentNews Data

Those who are successful at attracting and retaining female clients tend to build up trust though interests or values they share with women.

“Having someone who is really invested in their financial well-being and who understands all the details of their lives is what creates such loyalty between us and our female clients,” said Joy Kenefick, who represents half of the adviser team of Tillotson Kenefick Private Wealth Management of Wells Fargo Advisors.

More than one-third of advisers surveyed said shared values, integrity and trust were the top characteristics their female clients most value about them, other than the actual financial services provided.

How female clients choose a financial adviser
43%
Referral from a family member or friend
27%
They have a shared interest or personal relationship with the adviser
Source: InvestmentNews Data

About 22% of advisers said clients most value their ability to listen, 20% said it's their ability to translate their personal needs, and 13.5% said responsiveness/ communication is their most important feature to clients, the survey found.

Characteristics female clients value most
Source: InvestmentNews Data

Ms. Kenefick and business partner Marcia Tillotson, who together manage about $450 million, don't make decisions for their female clients. Instead, they arm clients with the knowledge to understand their choices and the confidence to make the decisions, Ms. Kenefick said. More than 50% of their clients are women — most married and some single.

The adviser pair requests both spouses attend meetings and will change meeting times, location and anything else that might be keeping one spouse away. Most often, it's the wife who doesn't come to planning meetings until the advisers make it clear they expect her to be there, Ms. Kenefick said.

Among married clients, the percentage of households where a woman makes most financial decisions
Source: InvestmentNews Data

About 43% of advisers said they always bring the wife into meetings if the husband had been making most of the financial decisions, and 55% said they sometimes do, the adviser survey found.

If the husband is making most of the financial decisions, how often is his wife brought into the decision process, meeting or calls?
Source: InvestmentNews Data

In fact, meeting with spouses together is something that 56% of advisers said they are doing to improve their relationships with female clients. About 64% of advisers are hosting education events about planning and investing to boost their female client relations, the survey found.

How advisers are improving their relationships with female clients
Source: InvestmentNews Data
Top financial concerns of female/male clients
Source: InvestmentNews Data

When a heterosexual couple comes into a meeting, typically they will have different agendas, advisers said.

“Women want to know if they are going to be OK financially,” said Dianna Parker, director of planning with Sagemark Consulting Private Wealth Services, who manages about $125 million in client assets. “Males start out being more interested in investment returns.”

About 85% of advisers said female clients are more focused on the long-term picture compared to male clients, according to the InvestmentNews survey.

Compared to your male clients, female clients are:
Source: InvestmentNews Data

And women are more apt to think about additional risks they might face beyond those related to investments, according to Ms. Parker, such as the financial impact of a job loss or being left a widow.

“Husbands tend to feel more invincible,” Ms. Parker said.

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