I’ve been working since I was 16 years old. Now, as a 33-year-old woman, I’ve advanced my career and earned the financial rewards that come with hard work and business success. I’ve purchased cars, houses, televisions, and other large household items. I’ve gotten married and had a child, and have selected a healthcare plan and childcare that are appropriate for my family.
Despite 17 years of building my financial foundation, until 2020 I was not on the radar of any financial advisor. No one had ever reached out to talk to me about my financial future. The only reason I received any advice this year was only because I went out looking for it.
Traditional gender roles still hold firm in most financial institutions and large purchasing processes and experiences. (The story of my construction loan and mortgage is one best left for another day.) Fortunately, the rise of big data and AI is providing new insights into our understanding of consumer groups and personas. We knew – or at least we felt – the significance of women in household and financial decision-making. Now, data is telling a dramatic story and solidifying those theories. This is forcing financial services organizations to rethink how they approach the marketplace.
It is no surprise that women are feeling misunderstood in the financial services marketplaceThe reality is female investors continue to be severely underserved. Financial services organizations need to take practical steps to serve female investors more effectively than they do today. With deposits being increasingly “expensive” to acquire, women investors are a hidden growth catalyst. When women take over the financial decision-making, they typically seek out new wealth management relationships that better suit their needs and preferences. This represents both a risk and an opportunity. It’s a risk to your existing customer base (and bottom line, really) and an opportunity for you to win new customers who are seeking a new advisor relationship.
Several years ago, we had the opportunity to partner with a large Canadian bank on some groundbreaking work. At the time, they had identified an opportunity to address the underserved market of women investors. In our work with them, there are a few success factors to leverage, even today:
Focus first on advisors
- Help them understand the realities of being a female investor.
- For our client, winning in the marketplace required real behavior change on the part of advisors. They were not going to win with a “pink strategy.”
Begin with advisors
- Advisors must first and foremost understand their female investor’s reality.
- Listen first and make no assumptions about partners, earning power, or preferences.
- Begin with information and knowledge to help educate, enable, and support female investors.
- Advisors should be both experts and skilled facilitators.
Create value-added female investor sessions
- Focus on value-adding activities for current investors and prospects.
- Create opportunities for investors to dialogue, learn, and exchange ideas together.
- Plan group sessions in settings and times that fit into women’s busy schedules.
- Add a social aspect to the connection to enable further informal dialogue.
- Provide practical and straightforward tools to support the investor – letting them move at their own pace
Our project with this bank was all about bringing value to the investor by creating trust, engaging in authentic conversation, and building women’s confidence as investors. We focused on topics that were important to female investors, such as investment basics, goal setting, building a plan, and generational wealth transfer.
There is a significant win-win for financial service providers who take action and for their female investors, who they more effectively serve. In our client’s case, they saw higher closing rates with prospects and an increased percentage of female investors willing to refer them.
In today’s highly competitive market, it’s crucial to be agile, retain and grow assets under management, and differentiate your investor’s experience through personalization and empathy. The financial institutions that can pivot quickly to win with (millennial) female investors will be unstoppable.