Women In Financial Services It Should Be An Ideal Match
Wanted: Entrepreneurs and self-starters who desire to run their own businesses and to make a difference in the lives of their clients. Be your own boss. Long hours (though flexible) to start. Possibility of working from home. Small financial rewards initially as you grow your business. Large future income potential.
The above advertisement is one that should attract many women. Who wouldnt want the opportunity to reap large financial rewards for doing something good for people? And who wouldnt want flexible hours and the ability to work at least some of the time from home?
The answer, at least according to industry statistics, is women. What is it about a career in financial services that fails to attract women? We know that, on average, fewer than 20% of career agents in the top life insurance companies are women.
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We also know that an even smaller percentage of women reach the top sales tiers of these organizations. And yet, women are searching for meaningful, rewarding careers. They want flexible hours to achieve balance of family life and career life. They want financial security for themselves and their families.
A career in financial services should be a natural fit for women. Women are relationship builders and problem solvers. We know that today successful careers in financial services are built on a solid foundation of relationships.
We are no longer motivated by the single transaction. We want to help our clients holisticallyaddress their changing needs over the course of their lifetimes. But, in order to best meet those changing needs, you need to have a solid grasp of increasingly complex concepts, and you need to be able to motivate the client to act on the recommendations you have madein short, you have to be able to sell.
And, in selling, you have to risk rejection. For women, who have worked so hard for acceptance as equals and who have worked so hard to prove their ability, rejection is very hard to take.
Companies, however, are catching on that women agents are vital to their future success. One, women know how to talk to other womenweve been doing it our entire lives. And, opportunities for future growth are heavily dependent upon being able to tap into the various and diverse segments of womens markets successfully.
Women as a group are terribly underinsured and in search of sound financial advice. Of course, women–as clients–tell us that gender is not an issue for them in choosing a financial advisor (OppenheimerFunds Women and Investing survey, 5/9/02).
But, they also want an advisor who will pay them the attention they deserve, who they can trust, who will respect them, who has greater experience than their own, and who understands the clients desire to maintain control. In other words, women want advice and options from their advisor, but they want to make the final decisions.
These are qualities that women agents possess and, accordingly, provide them a unique advantage in the womens marketplace.
Women agents are acutely aware of the many pressures on their female clients time because they are experiencing many of the same challenges. This is not to say that male agents do not have the same challenges–many do. But women truly understand what other women are dealing with.
Having made the case that women are great relationship builders and have a natural affinity in womens markets, what are the barriers to their success as financial professionals?