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When targeting female investors, advisors should understand how each age group — baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials — differ from each other in interests and needs and tailor their marketing accordingly, said Lori Hubbard, regional director of MFS, who spoke at the Commonwealth Summit for Women Advisors on Tuesday discussing why 50% of the population is not a niche.

The landscape has changed dramatically since the 1950s when women were expected to be homemakers. Today, 44% of women are primary breadwinners, 50% are in a managerial job or professional occupation, and women now control $72 trillion globally, a number that has doubled since 2010, Hubbard said in her Zoom presentation during the virtual conference.

What are the key differences that advisors need to understand?

Baby Boomers: Gray Divorce

Baby boomers, generally defined as those born between 1946 and 1964, have always had a high divorce rate and are continuing to split up in retirement. Hubbard says that 87% of female boomers have been married, but divorce in the empty-nest stage of life is increasingly common. Further, 69% of the time the divorce is initiated by the wife.

Studies have shown that when suddenly single due to death or divorce, a woman will leave the family advisor within 18 months. Widowhood on average occurs at age 59

, and generally women outlive their spouses by five to seven years.

This generation needs help now and likes a holistic touch. For example, one advisor she knows was asked by a client for information on divorce for his daughter. The advisor sent a divorce worksheet to him. The client had money with two other advisors who said they would help once the daughter’s divorce was finalized. But once it was finalized, the client moved his money from the other advisors to the first one. Plus, the advisor got the daughter’s business.

“It’s impactful to be a holistic advisor during emotional times,” she said.

Also, boomer women who had less access to defined contribution plans than younger generations especially worry about Social Security benefits. Advisors need to help them wade through that morass, especially because since 2010, there has been a 10% decrease in Social Security Administration staff, which means backlogs and delays.

Gen Xers: Highly Educated

Gen Xers, born between 1965 and 1980, often are called the “lost” generation as they have often been ignored. That said, female Gen Xers are more likely to have a college degree than their male counterparts, are hitting their peak earning years and are ready to fill the C-suite jobs from which boomers are retiring.

This was the first generation that had a significant number of stay-at-home dads.

“They also have the ear of their parents,” Hubbard said, “so they influence where inheritance will go.”

Millennials: Tech Savvy

Millennials, typically defined as born between 1981 and 1996 and beating out the boomers in numbers, have and will continue to change the world in many ways, she said. The first is how business will get done.

This group is the first tech-savvy generation, and leverages it. “They do research [on you] even before they meet you,” she says. “They are trying to figure out who you are.”

Therefore, she says advisors need to personalize their website and provide a connection point to make a first good impression.

Millennials also want to be involved, and advisors should be creative with their marketing. For example, one advisor does a “financial drive thru” in which he meets with newly married millennials who often don’t share financial information with each other until after the wedding. He focused on three things: Each one’s credit score, a household budget and illustrating the importance of compounding by showing how an investment of $1,000 would compound over 40 years.

“This generation has time on their side,” she said.

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