Advisors face a unique challenge when their female clients become widowed: Research from United Capital indicates that women are “likely to change financial advisors upon the death of their spouse” It’s an all too common occurrence; the couple may have even used the advisor for years. Yet when the advisor’s primary client – often the husband — dies, the widowed wife is left to reassess her relationship with the advisor. And if it’s not a secure one, they just might leave – despite benefitting from the advice of an experienced outside professional.
An advisor’s missteps
Obviously, many women aren’t feeling a connection with their advisors. One culprit could be lack of personalization. If the professional is offering cookie-cutter solutions to female clients, the client probably knows it. The fact is that the financial planning industry remains led and run predominantly by males. And advisors may sometimes fall prey to generalizing and stereotyping female clients, thinking of them “en masse instead of segmenting them into diverse consumer segments,” according to the United Capital study.
Financial advisors should also consider revising or replacing the financial strategy that used when the husband was alive.
“You have historical familiarity with the client, but you have to really listen carefully to their concerns and come up with a new assessment,” says Myra Natter, wealth advisor for Titus Wealth Management.
A time of transition
The onus of reestablishing the relationship – essentially starting new – with the widow is clearly on the advisor Natter says. “The client needs to feel safe and newly invested in the process,” she says. Advisors, then, can should move ahead and work on the “now,” avoiding thinking of what may have worked for the client in the past.