For financial advisors, mass affluent women who are saving and planning for retirement are among the top clients to target in 2018 and beyond.
In fact, nearly 50 percent of household breadwinners are now women, and women control a majority of U.S. household wealth — $14 trillion as of 2015, and a projected $22 trillion by 2020.
These figures aren’t too surprising, given that more women now complete college than men, their average pay is rising, and they live longer. With lifespans five to eight years greater than men’s, many retired women also control significant family estates – and many soon-to-retire women will, too.
Given the risks of greater longevity, lower average retirement savings and potential caregiving duties, women’s needs can also be greater in some ways than men’s. And with fewer years to work and save, women with families need to make their money count in retirement.
Even so, only one in three women uses a professional advisor, and those who do focus primarily on investment recommendations rather than comprehensive retirement planning.[i] Yet women who do use a planner generate over 50 percent greater savings than those who don’t.
What’s the reason for the state of affairs?
“A lot of advisors are stuck in the 1950s,” says James Pollard, marketing consultant with TheAdvisorCoach.com. “You see a lot of relationships where a man is speaking for the entire household, and the advisors just aren’t serving the needs of the woman.”
Single or married, these women are looking for advisors who will address their concerns and help them plan for their futures – not their partners’.
“It’s not an untapped market, but it’s an open market, and it doesn’t make sense that advisors aren’t going after it,” says Pollard.
Networking and referrals
But tapping that market can be easier said than done, Pollard concedes.
“One of the biggest problems with serving these clients is finding them in the first place,” he says.
Especially for firms with male-dominated networks and staffs, it can be tough to make connections with female prospects.
“There are a few avenues, but none are going to be as effective as LinkedIn,” Pollard says. “You can find hundreds of high-earning women there and set up appointments.”
The online platform provides near-limitless connection opportunities, and a well-planned profile can clearly explain your qualifications, the problems you solve and the people you serve.
Beyond a specific platform, hiring even one female client works can become an avenue to meeting more.
“You soon get to a point where you’re not only working with women in an industry, you’re familiar with their companies’ retirement plans and benefits packages,” says Pollard.
Friend-to-friend referrals are also key, but to get them from women, you’ll probably need to ask.
“Women tend to talk about everything except money,” says Kate Stalter, co-founder and senior advisor at Better Money Decisions.
It may seem like a tough ask, but if you’re already providing value and receiving great feedback, it doesn’t have to be.
“Referrals are really the keys to the kingdom, but we see a lot of advisors who just don’t ask for them,” says Ellen Pierce, UBS Wealth Management managing director. It’s an industry-wide issue. If an advisor tells a woman they need some referrals, she’ll deliver.”
Marketing, branding and building your niche
Once you have the attention of these prospects, you can make it clear how you can serve their needs.
“If I structure my profiles and marketing materials to make it obvious I work specifically with high-earning female executives, for instance, that audience will be more comfortable working with me,” says Pollard.