Results of a new survey of entrepreneurial, professional, and executive women include surprises about how many women actually work with advisors, where and how women get financial information, how many lack a financial plan, and how seldom they use debt.
CPA Bruce Balsam, director of the Income Tax Services group, and a partner at Elliot Horowitz & Company, LLP, an accounting firm based in New York, says the majority of his clients are women. Talking with his clients and other women at association meetings that he regularly attends, he “saw a pattern of recurring questions, and thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look.” Thus, the study, “Women’s Financial Profile–Old Challenges and New Directions 2006,” was born. The study says that 75% of the women surveyed “make their own financial decisions” and “do not regularly seek input from significant others or advisors.” That said, most (70%), have a retirement plan; 83% have a relatively low level of credit card debt, keeping it under 10% of their income; and 58% believe they “will be financially sound and secure” within 10 years.
Balsam says there are some fundamental issues for women and why they often don’t use advisors: trust, control and respect. If an advisor–a man or a woman–”respects the person on the other side of the table and treats them in a professional manner, they’ll win their trust, ” says Balsam, but he adds, “ very frequently clients come to me and say: ‘You know, I wanted to start a business, and the advisor I was using said to me, “What, are you out of your mind? Stay with your job.” ‘ I don’t take that point of view. You have a goal, a desire, something you want to do to make you happy–let’s work it through and see if you can get there. I’ll educate you on what the pitfalls might be and make a suggestion on what direction to go.”
“If an advisor can get attached to a group and develop a relationship with the group they can build trust,” suggests Balsam. The advisor could offer to meet with the group once a month, a quarter, or a year, and help “take the mystery out of it, suggest publications to read that are not necessarily from their firm,” because that may seem self-serving. “If they help with the education, help build a foundation, the trust and the ability to share in decisions will come–I think you can build a very successful relationship, and therefore a very successful practice” that way.