March 26, 2012

How to Be a Values Wealth Manager for Your Women Clients

Women want to leave a legacy no matter their socio-economic level. Most women associate money with values and want their money to help them gain security, feel a sense of freedom and achieve independence. 

Wealthy women in particular, however, view their wealth as a tool to enable their families and themselves to live their dreams and passions personally and now, more than ever, philanthropically.

A wealth manager can help their women clients build a solid financial plan to transfer their life ‘tangibles,’ but a trusted wealth manager can help them accomplish this and help them transfer the life ‘intangibles’ that are of utmost importance to these women.

You can help them achieve this noble calling in at least three ways.

One: Introduce Them to Creating a Legacy Document
A personal legacy document gives clients a way to articulate what matters most in life to their heirs, in tandem with their financial plan—their hopes for the future, core beliefs, life lessons, personal stories, philanthropic wishes and how they built their wealth. This is often an area that means the most to your wealthy women clients, but gets little attention. Women want to be remembered for their true wealth—their values, not merely their monetary value.

A personal legacy document can be an unique as the author, written to one or many audiences.  Most commonly it is a written letter, but in addition to a simple typed document, it could be an audio recording, a video or even a collage of photos. It can be shared with heirs and loved ones upon its creation or after the author has passed on.

Two: Help Your Clients Start Legacy Conversations With Their Families
Begin by encouraging your clients to have simple yet meaningful conversations with their families. These conversations help to link past, present and future generations.

Most people don't know how to start legacy conversations, nevermind what legacy topics to introduce. Perfect opportunities to introduce legacy conversations are around holidays or family get-togethers, whether it be an annual family barbeque or at the Thanksgiving dinner table.  Discussion starter topics could range from 'Which family tradition is most important to you and why?' to 'Which family ancestor would you ask a question to and what would it be?' or 'What philanthropy does your family care most about and why?'  

Three: Help Your Clients Reflect Their Values Through Their Investments  
Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) helps to translate passions to wealth management. It gives wealthy women, as well as wealthy investors in general, a way to reflect their values through their choices on where and how they invest their money. Are their religious, ethical and moral beliefs of highest importance to your client? Is the environment important? Animal rights? Corporate governance? Do you even know your clients’ views on these issues? Does their portfolio match these views?

Taking the time to really uncover your clients’ values and helping them match their values to their investment portfolio will not only likely ensure a lifetime-loyal client, it will likely get the whole family involved and create life-long clients across the generations.

Wealthy Women and Philanthropy
More and more wealthy investors want to align their assets with their personal philanthropies and areas of activism. They want to make an impact on current society and future generations. This is another extension of philanthropy rather than just donating time and money.

How can you help your clients invest to match their values? Are your clients even aware that they can do this?

Companies such as the Aperio Group, an RIA firm with nearly $2 billion in AUM that is based in Sausalito, Calif., help wealth managers with clients that have accounts greater than $1 million do this all of the time.

Through a customized ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) screening, the Aperio Group’s approach shows how wealth managers can help their clients do what those clients consider to be the ‘right thing’ based on their individual responses. This can also be referred to as MRI (Mission Related Investing.)

Questionnaires of issues are given to clients to help them articulate and clarify their preferences on issues that matter most to them and how intensely they care about those issues. Aperio Group and the wealth manager have a ‘social conversation’ with the investor based on the questionnaire. This allows them to calculate a ‘social score’ about their investing preferences.

While these questionnaires don’t necessarily provide all of the answers, the gathered information is very valuable in aligning their investment portfolio based on their passions. 

The end result—the client gets a truly customized portfolio with their values reflected in their investments. 

It’s far more expensive to prospect new wealthy clients. Why not show the far-reaching range of the value you bring to your current clients by helping them to get started building a legacy document, initiating deep legacy conversations with their family and mirroring those important principles in their overall portfolio. This is a powerful combination of services for which that woman client will be forever grateful.

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