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Last month we celebrated Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here at the companies of OneAmerica, we are “proud to be pink” and even prouder that we have been insuring breast cancer survivors for more than 25 years.

This time of the year always makes me thankful for the women in my personal life — and my professional one as well. Women are playing a major role in our industry. Once male-dominated, the financial services industry is increasingly becoming female-friendly. I am happy to point out that our top female producers are making great strides and helping change the demographic of the industry.

Why is it important for female producers to be front-and-center?

Even though women are gaining financial independence — now making up the majority of college grads, accounting for over half the US labor force and becoming the primary breadwinners of their households — women continue to feel less confident than men in their understanding of financial products.  

The blame can be partly attributed to our industry, which overwhelmingly caters to men in the way it presents and discusses information and products. Women feel left out of the conversation, so it never hurts to have a female financial professional in their corner to help guide them through their financial journey.

And that financial journey begins with a solid relationship built on trust. Mary Lyons, one of our top female producers and associate general agent with the Personal Economics Group in Texas, was recently featured by LifeHealthPro.com in an article entitled “Why 6 female producers love their job.”

As a financial professional, you need to take the time to develop deeper relationships with female clients. Mary is all about building relationships and taking care of her clients rather than just selling them products – this has helped her business to excel beyond expectation. Why?  “Because you know who notices and appreciates that sort of attitude? You got it: women.”

In a 2012 survey by the education firm Financial Finesse, it was found that women are considerably less likely to be confident in their financial decisions. It’s important to provide them the right knowledge and decision-making tools. Another top female producer, Susan Hurschman, of Cambridge Financial Partners in Plantation, Fla., makes sure that her role as a financial advisor is to establish confidence in her clients’ financial decision capabilities. She points out that it’s also her job to educate her female clients and help them make the decision that is best for them.

While it may not really be true that women are from Venus and men are from Mars, there are distinctions between the genders. And we need to be more mindful of the differences in our customer base — take a few tips from Mary and Susan by building deep and meaningful relationships and building confidence through education.

For more from Jeffrey Smith, see:

Organizing the financial junk drawer

Peyton Manning and the retirement funding team

Prospecting: Playing your cards right