Trust and respect is all it takes to retain affluent women clients, says Kim Greer, VP of Nationwide Financial, a retirement and savings broker based in Columbus, Ohio.

Greer and Nationwide gleaned this insight, along with some other surprising statistics, after jointly conducting a recent study, Success and Security: A Woman’s Perspective 2002. Advisors need to “understand what women’s buying patterns are and the concepts for selling to a woman,” Greer says. “And that will build strong relationships and trust. But that can’t happen over night.”

Three hundred women between the ages of 32 and 60 with annual household incomes of more than $100,000 were polled in addition to 100 single, divorced, and widowed women on financial issues and conduct. Eight in 10 women are going to be solely responsible for their assets at some point in their life, says Greer. By 2005 this market will be worth more than two trillion dollars, “so it’s worth paying attention to them,” she adds.

“Women have a longer buying pattern than men,” explains Greer, meaning that they like to get information and data, and look it over and discuss it with friends and neighbors or whomever they trust. For example, while it will take men only eight hours to research the best car to buy, it will take women forty. Women are more interested in seminars and group learning, while men are more interested in data and tend to make decisions quickly. “Women are very interested in the bottom line, but they are not going to base a decision on the first time something is presented to them.”

Respect is also a big issue for women, according to the survey. “With women, it is more about trust and a relationship with the advisor,” says Greer. “They want the advisor to listen to their needs and understand what their goals are.” Plenty of time to review and ask questions was also a top priority in addition to wanting their planners to avoid “targeted and slick presentations. Women want recommendations but don’t want to be pushed into making a decision,” she says.

While this information was not a surprise to Greer, she says women don’t prefer female financial planners. “That was the most surprising to me personally,” she says. “The fact that gender made no difference.”

Some other statistics from this study include:

  • 92% say a financial professional is very or somewhat valuable;
  • 67% say magazines, newspapers, or books are somewhat helpful sources of advice; and
  • About half say online financial planning tools are helpful.