Women professionals and female consumers are tentatively knocking on the door of the financial services industry. Who’s opening it? Is anyone listening?
Fifteen years ago, these may have been curious questions. But today, there is urgency. Recruiting women to financial services and reaching out to the female consumer are not niche market nice-to-haves. It is a critical business strategy for survival in the 21st century.
The signs are all around us.
? 5 women start a business every minute in the U.S.
?Women control more than 27% of the world’s wealth.
? Millennial women are one-third of the U.S. working population.
The good news is that these highly educated women are looking for career opportunities and want guidance with their financial planning. A recent survey from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. regarding attitudes about retirement planning and investing found that women are more likely than men to consult a financial advisor. The downside is that most women think wealth managers can better serve them, with nearly a quarter saying there is a “significant need for improvement,” according to a recent global study from Boston Consulting Group.
How do we bridge the gap?
The answer lies within the industry. Until we build up the ranks of women financial service professionals who share the female consumer’s experiences, we are missing a huge opportunity.
Recent data from higher education sectors indicate that American women, who now make up the majority of degree earners, including doctorates, are not only excellent candidates for careers in financial services but can simultaneously stand to benefit from financial services advice they may have once shrugged off. According to the federal Department of Labor, less than half of working women in the U.S. participate in a pension/retirement plan. Yet, retirement planning is among women’s greatest concern, according to MassMutual’s recent retirement study.
It is up to us to help them and, in turn, help us.
I have worked as an insurance agent in the field since the 1980s. I know the good, the bad and the ugly about starting out in this challenging profession. But I also know the story of succeeding both in this man’s business and for my female clients.