How Saavy Financial Advisers Work With Successful Women
by Christine Gaze
As Seen in Investment News
Women currently control more than $11 trillion in investable assets and counting. Many predict that women will own two-thirds of the nation's wealth by 2030.
A compelling body of recent research shows that executive women are one of the most important wealth segments that savvy advisers need to keep on their radar.
Why are astute advisers paying so much attention to executive women?
• They bring home the Benjamins. Two-thirds are earning the same or more than their spouse. Thirty-six percent are out-earning their partner.
• They are increasingly making investment decisions. Eighty-one percent are a key player in making investment decisions, and 29 percent are the primary driver.
• They have more assets to start. Nearly half came into their relationship with greater investment assets than their partner.
I spoke to some of our industry's top advisers and heard some intriguing insights. What do advisers need to take into account when working with these clients?
• They come with an entourage. Sixty-five percent of female executives have provided financial assistance for an adult family member.
• They have zero time. In addition to their demanding jobs, almost half have primary responsibility for child care, and nearly one in five are overseeing care for an elderly relative.
These women lead complex lives, and have constant demands for their time and attention. If you want to attract them, think of ways you can help them create clarity, unwind complexity and increase their confidence that everyone will be taken care of.
What are forward-thinking advisers doing to meet the needs of this growing affluent market?
Make her problems go away: Provide her with vetted outsourcing options.
Many executive women are incredible outsourcers, highly seasoned at finding and overseeing resources that can help ensure their lives run smoothly. They rely on their research skills and surround themselves with discerning people to help manage their families' lives and solve problems.
Heather Locus, a principal at Balasa Dinverno Foltz, said she has cultivated a variety of resources that her busy clients need. One company she recommends to her clients focuses on solving a myriad of health care problems — from helping families deal with catastrophic illness to making a home wheelchair-friendly and ensuring that meds are taken. Helpers like this not only solve urgent issues but provide day-to-day peace of mind.
Help her secure her own oxygen mask: Collaborate on a clear, dynamic plan for her financial life and include free coaching. Having a financial plan is a no-brainer. Women care about the big picture and want help figuring out how it can all work.
Because these women are more likely to be caring for others now and in the future, it is important to ask questions to learn things such as:
• What are her thoughts on elder care?
• Who else will contribute?
• What are the family dynamics she is dealing with?
Often, this discussion will mimic a coaching session, as she has thought about these things but never articulated them out loud.
When you develop a solid understanding of her situation, you can help clarify her priorities and put together a series of plans to address the various goals she has for herself and others.
Some of these goals may threaten her ability to do the things that are personally fulfilling to her. Here is where advisers may need to put on the coach hat again and help her consider:
• Is saying “no” to support requests even an option?
• Is there a way to accomplish goals for her entourage in a different way?
Many executive women have spent their lives ensuring that everyone else's oxygen mask is secured first. Advisers who have the patience, empathy and courage to sift through what matters most to these women and help them create a plan for success are likely to have clients for life — and the referral flow to make all the time spent worthwhile.
Christine Gaze is the president of Purpose Consulting Group, a New York City-based practice management consulting firm.