Women have the Money

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I don’t profess to be an expert on women and after 40 years of marriage my wife will be the first to agree. Years ago I was pouring over my book of business and clients, when I realized that over 80% of the decision makers in my client base were women. That number holds true today.

Back in 2014 I wrote a piece for my website “7 things I know about Women” announcing to the world that I do work with women. Luckily, I was smart enough to know that if I was working with so many women decision makers, why am I not actively looking to work with more women.

About 5 years ago the large institutions in my business realized that women live longer than men, our older population always have the wealth and they have never really focused on “selling” to women. They started courses and training to try to get the “old boys club” to meet these sales initiatives.

The countless articles, surveys and classes they put out is all about selling. Let me tell you, neither sex wants to be sold.

All of these surveys for some reason seem to think all women are the same and many simply set out to prove their thesis. Unfortunately, our society seems to be more interested in the sound bites than know the whole story and many advisors lack the wisdom to understand these surveys. Statistics and headlines rule. I had a survey of women and investing in my hands when two articles writing about another survey appeared in industry publications. What a difference in opinions and headlines.

A survey from StrategyMarketing.ca stated:

 “Women are risk adverse – not true. They ask a lot of questions because they want to know what is going on. 60% said they were always interested in investing… 51% were a decision maker on investing.”

A BlackRock Inc. survey was reported in two industry publications:

  1. Investment Executive: Lack of confidence keeping women from investing (headline)

  2. Advisor.ca: Older women more likely to seek advisors (headline)

Let me tell you, the demand for advising women is not new but society has changed. I used to find that when I dealt with a woman for her own investments we worked well together. When I had a couple in from an older generation the man appeared to be the one in charge. I would try to make sure both were engaged in our discussion but he always communicated with me. It was tough to know if I was meeting both of their needs.

I would see the woman sometimes give him a kick under the table and see her husband suddenly want to review what he just agreed to or re-think a statement. This made it tough to get a consensus with them both. Sometimes I would get a call from the husband “changing his mind” after they got home. We would then meet again to re-work the decisions to meet both of their wants and needs.

I found that over time these same women would start to call me and slowly take over as the point person. Of course, this is not the case in every family, but it happened a lot more than most advisors noticed. When the husband passed away (as we simply do not live as long) the advisor would lose the account. The surviving wife would find someone she could work with.

Wow, has that changed. While single women still control their own destiny when I meet with couples, most have a point person to work with me and the majority of the time it’s the women.

I have always run my business on a personal level. Learning about clients and prospective clients through conversation, not filling out a form. A lot of the time is spent listening to them, their answers and particularly what they bring up in our conversation. We all share.

Surprise, Surprise – in every thing I read, listening is the number one way to sell to women (notice they still think it is a sales process). They tell us what women want at incredible lengths and lump all women together.

Women are individuals and know what they want. Just have a proper conversation with them. Then work with them to meet their needs.

One reason I ended up with so many Women decision makers is my style of working with my clients obviously suits women.

When I moved to be a full service advisor in the early 90’s, one day I was taken aside by the branch manager and told that I spend too much time with each prospective client in our initial meeting. I was told that I would not last a year unless I changed. Of course I didn’t change. A year later he reminded me of the meeting and asked me to teach the others what I do. They were not landing a very good percentage of what was known in the industry as “bank refugees”. Listening was a very foreign idea.

They were not taking the time to know prospective clients other than to ask the questions on the form and offering product immediately. They directed their conversation to the husband and the wife was marginalized. I could not, and still do not understand this thought process. It’s both of their futures.

This week I received a referral from one of my favourite women and she wrote the following in our introductory email:

“They are looking for a trusted person to help coach them and give sound advice about how to manage a severance, cash flow etc! As discussed, they are not looking for an advisor who simply wants to push product and that is why I immediately thought of you”.

Apparently they have met with a few advisors and were simply in the sales cycle. They went to their friend and asked if she could refer someone who actually wants to know about them first. Someone who will work with them to help them through this new phase in their life. It was a great feeling to know that I am seen that way out on the street.

Women do have the money and your Independence Matters

Terry McIntyre is an independent investment advisor with Manulife Securities and can be reached at: 905-846-9060, ext.3838, email: Terry.McIntyre@manulifesecurities.ca or website: www.terrymcintyre.ca