Dear Male Financial Advisor: Why You Lost My Business
Dear Financial Advisor,
I know, as do you, the growing market – and disconnect – around female investors. The fact that women control nearly $5 trillion (and growing), but nearly 60% are reportedly unhappy with their financial advisors, presents both an enormous opportunity and challenge for financial institutions.
I also know – because you have told me – that in an effort to attract and better serve female clients, and bridge the communication gap that you sometimes have with your female clients (your words, not mine) you and your colleagues have participated in “gender communication trainings,” as well as read the “dos,” “don’ts,” and myths around female investors.
I think it’s great – and sensible – that you’re making efforts to attract more, better serve and communicate more productively with women. I believe in it so much, in fact, my company, Kennedy Spencer, has launched a product to help financial institutions do the same.
So with this in mind, and because I would like to see you do well, I want to tell you why you lost my business, despite your efforts. These may not be the typical “myths.” In fact, some may be counter to what you’ve learned or read. Which is why I’m telling you – I think it would be helpful for you to know. I hope they are.
- You treated me like a “woman” instead of a person. I get it. I really do. You’ve probably been bombarded by messages your entire personal and professional life, about how to speak to women. What to say. What to do. What not to do. What to expect. What we like. Women have been bombarded by many of those same messages. I’m not pretending that men and women are the same; we’re not. We’re hard-wired to think, behave, process information and communicate differently. That’s a scientific fact. But, instead of speaking to me based on guesses of what you think I like, or making assumptions around my gender, …ask me. Talk to ME. Not my gender.
- You talked about how many women clients you have. I appreciate you’re trying to make me feel comfortable and want me to know that you’ve done a good job for your female clients. I’m happy for you. But, how do I say this? Talking about how many women clients you have is kind of like being on a date and talking about how many previous girlfriends you’ve had. Honestly, I don’t really want to hear about it. What I do care about is how this “date,” is going to work out – or not. Be genuine. Be present. With me.
- You asked about my spouse’s income.This is a tough one. I understand and I know the reasons you’ve asked. My husband and I do make joint financial decisions on many things and have joint investment accounts. We also have individual investment accounts. We can get into all of that – if it makes sense or I choose to share it. But for now, I’m the one sitting with you, speaking to you. Speak to me. Let’s leave him out of it for now.
- You’ve “Googled” me, but you didn’t get to know me. This is a big one – for both men and women. But the truth is for me, and most people, what you found out is the “Internet me,” not the real me. It’s probably 1/10th of who I really am. Talk to me. Ask me where I’m at in my life, in my investing. Ask me why I’m meeting with or talking with you. Ask me my biggest financial dreams and fears? I’d also caution against making assumptions (e.g. You’re a business woman, so…..or You’re a mother, so…..) We don’t have to be best friends, but if you want me to take a risk and invest a considerable amount of money with you, I need to know you actually understand some things about me.
- You assumed my level of investment knowledge – Again, another tough one, I understand. I may know something. Or several somethings. I may know nothing. Chances are I will likely underestimate what it is that I do know. That doesn’t mean talking down to me – I know you wouldn’t do that – but talk to me about what I know, what I think I know, and what I don’t know. I’m not the expert – which is why I’m here. I want to know that you are the expert, and I can ask any question that I choose. I’d also like to know your opinion of some of the best investment information sites, books, and tools. Because that’s an area where you can be really helpful to me. There is nothing more powerful than providing value for free. I appreciate that.
- You didn’t ask me in detail what my goals are – We talked generally about my goals: house, college education, retirement, second home. Those are pretty standard and I suppose, in some ways, I fit the “profile” of women who invest in the long-term, stability. But, the more we can detail those goals, the more I can visualize the “end game” with you, the more likely I am to hire you, stay with you and actively invest with you.
- You didn’t give me a practical roadmap – and options — to achieve those goals. Not everyone, but the majority of women tend to be very practical – especially when it comes to money. Most of us are about the end game, though you shouldn’t discount that to all else. I understand no one can predict the stock market, nor do I expect you to, but the more practical roadmap you can give me to achieve those goals, the more likely I am to buy in. I actually think it’s less important for you to understand my “level of risk,” (a subjective term) and rather, advise me based on what I want and need. If we can achieve “pluses” along the way – so much the better – let’s talk about that too. For example, “Patty, if you need 1. and 2. Then, generally, you need to A and B. If you want 3, you need to C.”I absolutely understand it’s not an exact science, but the more clear you are in helping me develop a framework and plan, the more I am able to visualize something realistic and practical, the more likely I am to buy in, stay in and invest more. Importantly, talk to me about this, send it to me, let me sit with it. Then let’s discuss it.
This may seem like a lot of work and effort for you to get and keep my – or any other woman’s – business. But, you understand the untapped and tremendously growing female market. You already know all about high risk, high reward. When it comes to women, I tend to think of us as high investment, high return.
What do I mean by that? If you get my business – or just about any other woman’s business – and deliver value, chances are we will become hands-down your best ambassadors. You’ll attract and keep more female clients. We’ll stay with you and in the meantime, more actively invest.
Best of all, we’ll probably tell everyone how great you are. After all, it’s been proven that women will share information – 5x the rate of men – if they feel they’ve received a great value, or something of interest they think will help others. This is true especially among female friends – a growing group of female friends, I might add, who very much want, need, and are looking for trustworthy financial advisors.
High investment? Maybe. Higher return? Absolutely.
Patty McDonough Kennedy is an entrepreneur and investor. In 2005, she founded Kennedy Spencer (www.kennedyspencer.net) – a marketing communication agency that works with companies and individuals to measurably improve communication, raise awareness and increase sales. Her blog — a sometimes humorous, sometimes serious take on business, parenting, investing & life — is read in 50 countries. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org