Happy retired professional senior woman The financial industry at large is still one that’s mainly dominated by men. According to a 2017 report from the global consulting firm Cerulli Associates, just 16% of financial advisors are women.

On the client side, the situation is perhaps even more dire. According to a report by Strategy Marketing:

  • 73% of women report being unhappy with the financial services industry
  • 80% of widows leave their financial advisor upon the death of their husbands
  • 87% of women looking for a financial advisor say they can’t find one they can connect with

How can those of us in the financial planning and services industry – regardless of gender – do a better job of helping our senior women clients? Here are a few ways to begin.

Recognize the unconscious assumptions we may be making about what women clients want.

We all have unconscious ways of thinking about what different types of clients want when they seek out our services. Some of it is social conditioning, and some of it is based in experience. There’s nothing wrong with having these assumptions - the problem arises if we act on them blindly, without examining them.

This is especially true with senior women clients. Often, we in the financial industry might assume that they aren’t as interested in financial details, for example. If a woman is a recent widow, and her husband used to handle their finances, we may assume that she isn’t as financially savvy.

Instead of adhering to such assumptions, we should be aware of how these ideas are affecting the way we present ourselves and our services to our female clients.

Focus more on relationship-building with women clients.

One problem reported by many women who are unhappy with their financial advisors is that the advisor doesn’t take the time to understand their individual circumstances.

Senior women have vastly varying lifestyles, wants, and financial concerns. Some are widows with major assets to invest. Some are caring for a loved one who will need long-term care. Some are supporting their adult children. Some want to open a business.

While great financial advisors always place some focus on building a strong client relationship, it may be helpful to tune in even more to this part of the equation when working with senior women.

It’s just as important to be able to offer personalized, creative solutions to clients’ challenges. Life settlements are one possibility, especially since so many seniors don’t even know they exist.

Make it a priority to attract and retain women clients.

One simple reason that many women aren’t happy with their advisors is that we in the financial industry haven’t yet embraced the reality that women are poised to control huge amounts of the nation’s wealth.

According to research by the Harvard Business Journal, by the year 2020, women stand to control 50% of the country’s private wealth, which is expected to total $22 trillion.

If your firm isn’t focusing specifically on attracting and retaining women clients, you could be losing out on a major opportunity to serve this important demographic.

For more, read our post “The Biggest Financial Issues Facing Senior Women in 2017.”