Our Views

What women want from their financial advisors

As an independent professional woman, I’ve always bristled at the suggestion that there is somehow a difference in how I approach the management of my assets simply because of my gender.

But having just come back from a Women Advisors’ Forum in the U.S. this week, I have to say there is a lot of research to suggest women do have different expectations than men – and these are not being very well met by the financial industry.

A 2009 survey of 12,000 women by Boston Consulting Group found that women are dissatisfied with the products and services available to them in many consumer categories. Guess which industry is at the bottom of the heap: Financial Services. Keynote speaker, Eleanor Blayney, co-founder of Directions for Women, suggested there are two reasons for this: intimidation and patronization.

According to the same study, most women don’t have a bias toward dealing with female advisors – only about 11% expressed a gender preference.

So what DO women want from their financial advisors?

  • We put competence and experience ahead of gender. Yet, Blaney suggests women don’t measure these factors by title, credentials or functions. We want to know why you are in this profession. What brought you here and how can you help us?
  • We tend to value advisors who bring life experience in the many issues we face (work-life balance, caring for elderly parents, singlehood later in life, etc.) not just investment experience. We want someone who can help us build a roadmap for our lives. (Hearing this from the speakers I have to say was validating as this is exactly the comprehensive wealth management approach we try to take with our clients at Newport Private Wealth, both men and women.)
  • We want to connect our money and our values. According to Blayney, females are not driven to achieve “optimization of risk adjusted returns” for their capital. Rather, we want an advisor who can help us increase our worth – both our financial and human capital. We may even want you to play the role of financial mentor, without making us feel inadequate.
  • Advisors should know that we may also want more time and more information to make our decisions than our male counterparts and there is some research that suggests we are better investors than men because of it! Read Women Make Better Investors Than Men, But Why?
  • We want a collaborative exchange with our advisors. We want to be heard, not ‘fixed’. (Think Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.) In other words, advisors should listen more than they talk and work jointly with their female clients to develop sensible strategies for increasing their clients’ wealth and security – as opposed to rushing to solutions or pigeon holing them into pre-packaged investment products. Which makes me wonder again, isn’t that what everyone wants, regardless of gender?