There was plenty to take away from the 21st-annual Raymond James (RJF) Women’s Symposium, which was held last week in St. Petersburg, Florida, according to both hosts and attendees, which numbered about 500.
The group heard from company executives, as well as from Shelley Broader, a Raymond James board member who leads Walmart’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Participants also attended breakout sessions and talks from top-producing advisors.
The event’s popularity has been growing, so next year it will be held in Orlando, where the firm can accommodate more guests from its independent, employee and other advisor channels.
The event included several general sessions and a client panel, which highlighted what women in transition are looking for in a financial advisor.
Read on to see what conference attendees discussed and learned about trends in the business from industry experts, advisors and others.
1. Help Clients in Transition
The advisor business “is about attracting and retaining clients – and assets – with our heart through relationships,” says Jan Holman, head of advisor education for Thornburg Investment Management.
Women 50 and older, who are likely to lose a spouse or go through other significant life changes as the age, have about $19 trillion in assets, she explains.
“Women are interested in [financial] education” on a broad basis, Holman explained, and are less motivate to learn about the details concerning asset allocation, for instance, or fluctuations in interest rates.
“They are long-term investors,” she said, and they refer their advisors to others 26 times on average vs. 11 times for a male client.
As they go through changes, they face complex situations and are in need of guidance. To best help them, ask these three questions:
- How can I help you feel comfortable and productive in our meetings?
- How would you like to receive information and recommendations from me?
- How can I best support you in making decisions?
“This is what it’s all about, helping them understand why they should trust you and co-creating solutions and blueprints of how you will work together, and sticking to these agreements,” Holman explained.
2. Don’t Be a Robo
Industry surveys find that ultra-high-net-worth investors, those with at least $30 million in assets, are more concerned about their personal health and financial security than about the latest performance of the S&P 500 index.
“Know what matters to your clients,” Holman said. “Get in there and get deep.”
This means planning for the second half of your clients’ lives. “Ask what they are living for,” she explained. “Help them understand that this could be about simple things like spending more time with family.”
A wirehouse advisor told Holman about the importance of building models and providing great service. “But that’s meaningless. If I’m a client or prospect, I would you to tell me about yourself. What’s your story?”
This is the type of thing that, of course, robo-advisors can’t do, she pointed out to a crowd of several hundred advisors. “They are one-dimensional. You all are three-dimensional,”
Plus, some robo-advisor platforms may less able to restrict a client’s family members from accessing account information and holdings compared to full-service brokerage accounts.
“As the poet Maya Angelou said, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ ”