I’ve been married for nine years, so I know there are many differences between men and women–in how we communicate, process information and much more. What I didn’t fully understand or appreciate until recently, however, was just how much those differences affect the sales process in our industry and our client relationships.
I recently conducted an educational seminar for the Omaha chapter of the American Society of Women Accountants. Called “Wising Up About Retirement: Successful Strategies for Smart Women,” and developed by Securian Financial Group, the seminar explains why women should care about retirement and financial planning strategies to meet their needs. The strategies we discussed include:
o Starting where you are and apply what you know. It’s never a wrong time to get started on a solid retirement plan.
o Getting the facts on Social Security.
o Learning about benefits plans. These encompass retirement programs, such as the 401(k), IRA rollovers, etc. If married, you also should know your rights under your spouse’s pension plan.
o Leveraging taxes, tax-deferred savings, annuities, cash value life insurance and Roth IRAs.
o Not putting all of one’s eggs in one basket. You should diversify investments held in individual and employer-sponsored retirement accounts using asset allocation strategies.
o Being a student on investments. Use common sense and invest only in what you understand.
o Developing a plan. We use Yogi Berra’s quote: “If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.”
Activity and discussion are important
The hour-and-a-half-long session, held at a local country club, was interactive and involved small-group and full-group discussions. There were exercises that emphasized information and spurred conversation.
The first activity, “When I’m 64,” based on the classic Beatles’ song that begins with the words “Picture yourself in a boat, on a river,” enabled participants to take five minutes to think about and write down what they hope to be doing in retirement. The women shared their dreams of spending more time with grandchildren, traveling, embarking on new hobbies and activities, and furthering their educations. Compared with seminars I’ve held with male participants, women are much more likely to share information and participate.
How we’re different
Following our “When I’m 64″ exercise, we spent a significant amount of time talking about how men and women tend to think differently–how they focus, their ability to multi-task, intuition–and why it all matters.
In general, men perform better than women on tasks that require focus. Women tend to be better at work that requires multi-tasking. And whether you call it a gut feeling or intuition, women tend to take in the big picture, including body language, when communicating.