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Phil Wickenden: Understanding female clients

Women are earning, inheriting and controlling more money than ever. Yet very few financial institutions and individuals are doing an outstanding job of attracting and selling to this increasingly affluent market. How you sell financial services to men is not the same as how you sell financial services to women. Even if men and women end up buying the same product, they may buy it for different reasons. Understanding these differences is vital and IFAs need to stop treating advising women as a niche area.

The more politically correct individuals will cry foul at any mention of double standards or reinforced stereotypes in the division between men and women. At Owen James’s recent Meeting of Minds, there was guffawing (over a delightful lunch it must be said) at the suggestion that there should be any difference in the advisory proposition for men and women.

Men and women, though, speak in completely different languages (my wife calls mine “dross”), so much so that it is often said we are from two different planets. That is because we are. Men and women think differently, speak differently and decide differently. Given that the success of business will be dependent on the quality of relationships advisers can keep rather than the volume you can attract, truly “getting” this and reflecting it across the advisory process will be key.

You can choose to ignore it. And that’s fine. But I would challenge why you would not want to consider tailoring services to the unique needs of women, given:

  • It is predicted that women will own more than 60 per cent of the nation’s wealth by 2025.

  • A report by Tulip Financial Research in 2010 estimated that there are now more than 70,000 women in the UK with liquid assets of over £2.5m.

  • There were over 100 women in the 2011 edition of the Sunday Times Rich List.

With greater fluidity of lives that are far less linear, there is increasing need for advice resulting from changes in personal circumstances – from bereavement, divorce and the need to care for elderly relatives. That’s not being cynical, it is just what is going on.

A paper published by Pershing Advisor Solutions showed that 80 per cent of women would at some point be responsible for household finances but that more than 70 per cent of all women fired their adviser within one year of a husband’s death. Bearing in mind that currently 50 per cent of all marriages end in divorce and women outlive men by five years, it is certainly something to think about.

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

Female clients were recently asked “If you could change one thing about the way you work with your financial adviser, what would it be?” (Quotes have been taken from research by Holly Buchanan – author of Selling Financial Services to Women).

What advisers are saying July 19

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