As the couples walked into the workshop, the women stopped short, looked around, smiled and expressed pleasure. When their husbands walked into the room, they paused and wondered, “What have I gotten myself into?”
They all had come with hopes of learning how to protect their wealth and plan for the next generation, but they certainly weren’t expecting this.
The conference room had been transformed, with every detail tailored to appeal to the feminine. Tables were covered with crisp white tablecloths, and carefully set with pink linen napkins and delicate china teacups. A large bouquet of flowers graced the front podium, and each table had a small vase of pink tulips. Soft music played as participants found their seats, but we could still hear their quiet expressions of surprise when they found our final touch: a pink journal for each participant.
In this gentle, feminine environment, the women came to life. The men were a bit more sullen at first, as this all felt a bit foreign to them. But, by the end of the meeting, there was greater communication, sharing of ideas and both the male and female participants were more engaged and committed to the process.
A female-friendly estate planning practice isn’t created by writing a cutesy script or softening your tone of voice; it starts with tailoring your approach to suit the ladies.
The financial industry at large has failed to notice that it is very strongly skewed toward men. For the most part, financial services were developed by men, for men, based on what appeals to men. While this system worked well in a male-dominated culture, the balance of financial power is shifting quickly.
Women have never had more financial power than they do now. BCG Estimates that by 2014 women will control close to $29 trillion. These projections are based on women’s growing presence in the workforce, greater involvement in family finances and the greater incidence of inherited wealth owing to women’s longevity.
Today, women are earning and controlling more wealth, becoming more involved in business, engaging in marriage as equals and expects more from their financial professional. A study by Deloitte & Touche found that 90% of women expected their advisor to provide education and guidance rather than “sell them on effective strategies and practices”. These women expect the industry to recognize what they need and want… and it’s NOT a cutesy script.
Women want more. From the office environment to the way information is presented, the female client will no longer tolerate “manhandling.” The time has come to learn how to appeal to the feminine forces of finance… or, prepare to face massive attrition. According to the Boston Financial Group 70% of women who lose a spouse through death or divorce will leave their current Advisors in less than 3 years, that can add up to a significant loss of business for any professional.
Avoiding attrition is just one reason to create a female-friendly practice; there are so many other benefits:
- Because women tend to be strongly relationship oriented, they are also very loyal. Once you establish a good relationship with your female client, it will take a lot for another advisor to woo her away.
- Women are motivated by a strong sense of purpose, and they relate to their money through that purpose. When they know their money is in position to support their purpose, they relax, and usually see performance and related fees as an important, yet secondary concern.
- As we all know, women love to talk, and because of this tendency, female clients provide three times more referrals than male clients. They are deeply community oriented, frequently trading information and knowledge to enhance their own life and the lives of those around them. Whether their sense of community extends to family, the neighborhood, colleagues, or a much larger circle of influence, when a woman becomes your “raving fan,” people are going to hear about you!
One of the smartest things you can do as a financial professional today is to learn how to create a professional environment that really engages your female clients – and when you do, it will open the floodgates to a sea of female contacts, all looking for a financial professional who knows how to work with women.
To learn more about “The Keys to the Ladies Room” visit KeystotheLadiesRoom.com.
Adri-Miller Heckman is a national speaker on the topic of working with women. She has been successfully addressing the fact that in financial and legal situations, the planners tend to speak to the men and leave the women out. When the decision makers for estate planning are the women, this is not a smart move! She is the author of “The Keys to the Ladies Room” and was also a keynote speaker at last week’s American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys Fall Summit in Coronado, California.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555