Women control and influence upwards of $20 trillion (27 percent) of the world’s wealth. In the US, their decision-making correlates to 39 percent of the nation’s investable assets. Up to 66 percent of women identify as the primary decision-makers for their household assets.
Here, female executives and entrepreneurs discuss their financial needs.
“Many male financial advisors have traditionally overlooked the female investor,” says Deborah Rosado Shaw, senior vice president, chief global diversity and engagement officer of PepsiCo. “Women want to be understood, listened to, and asked, ‘What are your priorities?’ Advisors would be well-served by listening and communicating directly to the female experience.”
Kellie McElhaney, adjunct assistant professor at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and John C. Whitehead Faculty Fellow in Corporate Responsibility, says having a female financial advisor was particularly important during her divorce. “I learned how important it is to understand your finances, whereas I’d always deferred to my husband. Now, I have a close relationship with my advisor; she understands my profession, children and values.”
“An advisor who takes time to understand, educate and help clients align life and financial resources is hugely differentiated and more likely to earn the trust and loyalty of clients,” says Andrea Turner Moffitt, senior vice president, Center for Talent Innovation and co-founder of Plum Alley Investments.
For financial advisors, the strategy of catering to women is self-serving, too. When male clients pass away, their widows are very likely to fire their advisors. Statistics show that 70 percent of women leave their advisors within a year of their husband’s death, precisely because they felt ignored.
A recent survey found that just over half of women with at least $25,000 in investable assets share in financial decision making with a spouse or partner, while nearly half make financial decisions on their own. It’s a shift, considering that men traditionally have been the breadwinners and the ones to manage household finances.
For women to be successful, their personal finances need to be in place, and their financial advisors need to communicate about more than just investments. Turner Moffitt says, “Women are seeking a greater basket of goods from their advisor. They want to feel connected between money and career, workplace and community.”
What is Rosado Shaw’s advice to professional advisors? “Challenge your assumptions about who women are and the assets they control. You just might find a few more well-heeled clients!”
About the Author: Lori R. Sackler is a financial advisor with the global wealth management division of Morgan Stanley in Paramus. She can be reached at 201-967-6267.