Women: Overlooked, Disenfranchised and High-Value

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A recent study by Fidelity Investments found that 70% of widows fire their financial advisor within one year of their spouse’s death!1  Why would so many women dismiss the advisor who worked so diligently for their family, in many cases, for years?  The answer is enlightening: The women viewed their advisor as condescending toward them, often meeting only with their spouse. Even in joint meetings, they believed the advisor made eye contact and communicated primarily with their husband, as if they had no say or interest in the financial security of their family. 

In short, the women felt overlooked and undervalued, leading to a lack of trust in the advisor.

Why should you care about female clients?  Besides the ethical reason to avoid gender bias, there are some very important statistics (cited and referenced by Holly Buchanan in her book, Selling Financial Services to Women and by Kathleen Burns Kingsbury in her book, How to Give Financial Advice to Women):

  • Over the next few decades, it’s predicted that women will inherit close to $30 trillion in intergenerational wealth transfers.  Because women are likely to outlive their husbands, women will control most of this wealth. They will also inherit their parents’ wealth.

  • 57% of college graduates are women. Female college graduates control more than 60% of the personal wealth in the U.S.

  • 22% of women earn more money than their spouses.

  • Women make approximately 80% of their family’s buying decisions.

  • 89% of bank accounts are controlled by women.

  • 28% of homeowners are single women.

  • 45% of the millionaires in the U.S. are women.

  • In 2009, 40% of private companies were at least 50% owned by women, compared with only 26% of companies in 1997 in that category; 20% of firms with revenue of at least $1 million were owned by women.

In short, women are earning more, inheriting more and controlling more wealth than ever before.  This is a huge, untapped demographic cohort awaiting every financial advisor who understands some key points about women’s needs and desires.

  1. Ruth Ackerman, Investment News, Women & investing: Why many advisers are missing out, April 8, 2012