While some financial professionals treat clients and prospects as gender-neutral, many women communicate, relate and absorb information differently than men. No matter the gender, age or race, it is important to adapt your approach to meet the individual needs of your unique clients. Following are five points that can help you position yourself as a trusted financial professional when working with your female clients:
1. Practice active listening and ask questions.
Being an active listener will help you cultivate trust and build better relationships with all your clients.
Active listening is more than just paying attention – it involves providing feedback. It’s being fully engaged in a discussion with a client, including paraphrasing what she said to show that you understand. Ask open-ended questions and allow your client the opportunity to articulate her thoughts and concerns fully before you continue.
2. Communicate often and establish a consistent presence.
In a 2013 Women and Finance survey, increased communication was the most consistent answer to what women would change about the way they work with their adviser.1 Touch base with your clients on a regular basis. Offer to buy lunch or coffee to catch up with them and discuss any significant changes in their lives.
As appropriate and allowable, use email and social media to establish a consistent presence with your clients. More women use the majority of the top social media sites and are engaged in social media more often than men.2 Take the time to acknowledge important events such as birthdays, weddings, or funerals.
3. Focus on the financial needs of both partners.
Unless it’s a single household, the income, assets and financial goals of both members of the household should be evaluated. Women make or influence 85% of all purchasing decisions in the United States,3 so when you discuss financial options, do so with both of them, especially if one is a stay-at-home parent.
4. Highlight the benefits, not the features.
Instead of highlighting the features of a product or service when presenting options to clients, financial professionals may have more success by focusing on a product’s benefits and associating those benefits with a specific need. For example, while a permanent life insurance policy may offer a loan feature, discuss how the real benefit is cash value that can be easily accessed to help provide a down payment for a home or help pay college tuition expenses.4
Also, don’t overlook the benefit of working specifically with you. Your sincerity, listening skills, expertise and overall personal touch are qualities that belong to you. This will help set you apart from other financial professionals and demonstrate your value.
5. Consider targeting female business owners.As of 2014, there were nearly 9.1 million women-owned businesses employing nearly 7.9 million workers and generating over $1.4 trillion in revenues.5 These business owners may need your expertise in protecting their businesses, acquiring adequate personal insurance, planning for retirement or any other business and personal finances issues.
Women are a powerful force in today’s economy, representing nearly 47% of the American workforce and control over $20 trillion in annual spending in the United States.6 By tailoring your approach, you can better position yourself as a financial professional with female clients.
• Have any comments or tips of your own? Please share them on this new thread: Keys to Working with Female Clients
James Cowan is the Director of Next Markets at Ohio National Financial Services. He can be reached at[email protected] or 513.794.8557.
1Forbes, The Power of “Just One Woman,” by Jennifer Girlhood, August 26, 2013
2 financesonline.com, 2014 study
3TNW News, The Top 30 Stats You Need to Know when Marketing to Women, by Ekaterina Walter, August 2012
4 Policy loans, if taken, will reduce the policy death benefit.
5 The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, Commissioned by American Express Open.
6U.S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau, 2015 – http://www.dol.gov/wb/stats/latest_annual_data.htm