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Phil Wickenden: Advisers should embrace gender differences

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Last week I risked the wrath of the political correctness police by suggesting that women have different needs to men and as such should be treated differently when it comes to financial planning. This is all the more pertinent given that, a) women are controlling more wealth than ever and, b) as an industry, to date, we have been fairly rubbish at doing it well.

But let us be clear, I do not mean make it pink and tie ribbons on it. Here is what I do mean:

To recap, men and women think differently, speak differently and decide differently. Given that much of the embedded value in advisory businesses lies in each individual relationship and not in the products that may or may not be recommended, changing your approach may be rewarding.

Men think compartmentally and women think globally. Men tend to separate details and store them in different compartments, much like a filing system. Cognitively speaking, men tend to open and close drawers needed for the immediate moment, staying exclusively in that one compartment. In that moment, nothing else exists except for what is in that compartment. Women, on the other hand, tend to do the complete opposite and connect things, seeing life more globally. Women see how details and data have underlying and interrelated connections.

Have you ever called your husband or partner to ask him to pick something up at the supermarket on his way home, only for him to arrive home empty-handed? I am not making excuses but that is because he was in the ‘work’ compartment, focusing exclusively on getting the job done, where nothing else exists but his work. (OK, I am making excuses.)

Chaps, have you ever had a disagreement with your wife or partner about something and she brings up stuff that happened months ago? You likely stood there with a deer in the headlights sort of expression wondering what in the world that has to do with this?

But we also speak differently. On average, it has been estimated that men speak 12,500 words in a given day and women speak about 25,500 words in a day. Men communicate to report facts while women communicate to build rapport. This mismatch of report-talk versus rapport-talk can greatly increase the friction and tension in interpersonal relationships.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule but by and large we are different. As such, financial advice – and the delivery of it – could and should embrace and reflect differences that exist in spite of the trend to gender-neutrality.

Phil Wickenden is the founder of So Here’s The Plan

All interviews taken with QCF Level 4 qualified advisers in fee-based firms.

Phil Wickenden July 261

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