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Women’s intuition

Collette Dunkley has spent six years researching gender science differences and applying them to business communications practices. She advises a wide range of global organisations on how to adapt business practices to incorporate gender differences and market and sell more effectively

Colette Dunkley managing director X and Y Communications

You can forget China or India, the strongest area of economic growth is women. However, the thinking behind how you sell to women has changed alongside developments in neuroscience. It used to be that women were all about “nurturing” and that was enough to explain gender differences but today’s thinking is more sophisticated.

It has long been established that men have more testosterone, which makes them more competitive, aggressive and thrill-seeking. But testosterone goes up and down during the day. It is at its highest between 8am and 10am – not only does this coincide with the most important time on stockmarkets, it is also the time of most board meetings. This certainly is not going to be best for cordiality and will need to be factored into the advice process.

You need to put any advice in the context of a woman’s lifestyle – how will it make her a better worker, mother, wife?

Women are wired differently. Most importantly for financial advisers is that women will you need to put any advice in the context of a woman’s lifestyle – how will it make her a better worker, mother, wife? Make financial decisions based on their relationship with the adviser rather than the attributes of the product. It’s a case of “I only care what you know if I know you care.”

That means that you need to put any advice in the context of her lifestyle – how will it make her a better worker, mother, wife?

The financial services industry has some hurdles to overcome. Women see it as very male, very competitive and ruthless to the point of being completely unethical. They do not like the customer experience of financial services. Financial salespeople are listed alongside car salesmen and builders as people they trust least. This is where the industry has to make the greatest strides.

Women access financial services in different ways as well. Men may go through financial sites or their news-paper, women may go through sites such as iVillage.

You may also have to give your office a makeover. Women have higher sensory receptors than men so will notice over-flowing wastepaper baskets. They also hate waiting so either don’t do it or at least give them a magazine to read.

Businesses which have taken these gender differences on board have seen a significant improvement in business. These include big brands such as More Than or B&Q. John Lewis remains the benchmark.


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