“How would you feel if I turned my back on you for this entire presentation?” Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, LMHC, CPCC, asked the audience as she opened her session “Essential Skills for Advising Women in Couples” at the recent MDRT annual meeting in Toronto. “That’s what many women feel like when they’re meeting with an advisor.”
This lack of recognition from advisors is one of the key reasons 70 percent of women fire their advisor within one year of the death of their spouse, she added.
That’s a lot of money walking out the door, as 70 percent of intergenerational wealth transfers pass on to female investors, who live longer and inherit wealth from both partners and parents. In addition, women-owned businesses are growing at twice the national rate, and if collected, they would be the fifth largest GDP in the world, Burns Kingsbury said.
However, two-thirds of women say they don’t trust financial advisors, and a survey recently found that women rank advisors lowest in customer service out of 34 categories.
What accounts for this state of affairs?
For one thing, the wealth industry was created for men, by men. “At the time, it made sense. In the 1950s, women couldn’t even get their own credit cards,” she said.
But things have changed dramatically, and advisors must stop lumping women together, Burns Kingsbury said.
Instead, think about your ideal female client. Is she interested in:
- Raising financially fit grandkids?
- Starting her own business?
- Charitable giving?
- Investing responsibly?
Women are a very diverse group of individuals, Burns Kingsbury emphasized. “Don’t say ‘I’m reaching out to the women’s market’ any more than you would say you were reaching out to the men’s market.”
What does it mean to be a couple?
The session also stressed that when it comes to couples, the days of the Dick Van Dyke show are ancient history. Traditional couples now account for just 20 percent of all couples, Burns Kingsbury said, while non-traditional couples, including same-sex, unmarried, or those without kids, now make up the new majority.
Burns Kingsbury added that, as couples integrate later in life and other factors become more common, finances become more complex. “Couples need you more and more,” she said.