If you’re not selling life insurance to women, you’re missing out a sizeable market. The Pew Research Center recently surveyed 1,260 men and women about their family’s financial management practices. Two-thirds of the couples responded that the man had the higher income, but that status didn’t eliminate the woman from the couple’s decision-making process.
In fact, 45 percent of the women said they alone managed the family’s finances while only 37 percent of the men gave the same answer. Twenty-nine percent of the respondents said they make decisions jointly, which means that women make or share responsibility for about 60 percent of the family’s financial decisions. Advisors who overlook the woman’s input when selling to couples risk alienating the primary decision-maker.
Of course, women in families comprise just one segment of this market. It’s estimated that roughly one-quarter of adult women in the U.S. are unmarried, but that status doesn’t mean they don’t need life insurance. For example, professional women and entrepreneurs face the same business-related insurance needs as their male counterparts. Similarly, women who wish to create bequests for heirs and their favored charitable causes are also candidates for life insurance.
There is another reason to consider women as a potential market: Many of them are under-insured. It’s estimated that two-thirds of families today depend on two incomes, which means the death of a working wife can cause serious financial disruption for a family. However, wives who don’t work also contribute considerably to a family’s finances. According to a May 2008 “Mom Salary” survey by Salary.com, it would cost almost $117,000 per year to replace the services of a stay-at-home mother. LIMRA reports that only 36 percent of women have group life insurance at work and only 40 percent have individual policies, so the market has strong potential.
Successful prospecting methods
Of course, recognizing a market is only the first step: Getting yourself in front of prospects from that market is the challenge. Barbara Pietrangelo, CFP, CLU, ChFC, is a financial planner with Prudential in Grand Rapids, Mich., and a member of the Million Dollar Round Table, who has developed an enjoyable method for reaching prospects and strengthening ties with clients. For the past eight years she has hosted a dinner and a fashion show, and this year’s event drew over 300 attendees. “We keep it really light,” says Pietrangelo. “We do the fashion show, we do a dinner, and then we also do a short presentation on financial planning and the importance of it, including things like life insurance and why that’s so important.”
The event’s popularity has grown. On average, each invited woman brings 2.5 guests and in recent years, an increasing number of men have attended. “What’s really interesting is that the first year, I only had one man attend,” says Pietrangelo. “He claimed his wife couldn’t drive at night, but he really wanted to know what we were saying to his wife. This year, I’ll bet 25 or 30 of my audience was male. The guys are having so much fun, there are now rumors getting out that it’s fun for them, too, and they’re coming. So although I only invite women to it and market it towards women, we do have a lot of guys sitting in with us now. It’s funny, but I still have a lot of people call the next day and they say, ‘Gosh, in your presentation you mentioned this and that. Are we covered that way? Or have we taken care of this?’”
Vicki Brackens, ChFC, is a senior financial planner with Brackens Financial Solutions Network, an office of MetLife, in Syracuse, N.Y. She’s been licensed for life sales for over 20 years and has qualified for MDRT. Brackens estimates that women comprise roughly 60 percent of her financial planning and life insurance clientele. Her female clients are diverse but Brackens says “they tend to fall somewhere between 40 and 50 years old, professionals, with dependents –we define dependents as being not only children, but also possibly family dependents.”