5 Mistakes Advisors Make Working with Women in Couples
What are the common mistakes well-meaning advisors make when working with women in couples? Here are the top five according to the women and advisors interviewed by wealth psychology expert Kathleen Burns Kingsbury.
Some advisors throw in the towel on connecting with the female member of the couple before they get started, stating that they don’t think they can win over the woman so they won’t even try. This industry bias results in an alarmingly high number of women mistrusting advisors and becoming very dissatisfied consumers. With women making more than 80 percent of the buying decisions in the family, including whom to hire as a financial advisor, this is a costly mistake for you to make.
The next mistake financial advisors tend to make is not including her in all the financial discussions and decisions. My recommendation is to educate your couples as to the many advantages of meeting, planning, and monitoring their financial lives together.
A woman’s silence in a meeting is commonly misinterpreted as her agreement with what is being said or as disinterest. However, women tend to be quiet when they are learning, and so her silence may be a more accurate indicator of her taking in new information.
Check in and find out what she is thinking and feeling about the information being discussed. It will give you the important information you need so you can either proceed with or revisit a concept.
Often advisors think they are helping a female client by reassuring her that she does not need to be anxious, and instead it alienates her. The best strategy is to partner with her and validate her feelings. Find out what is causing the fear, and reframe it as “important information,” not something to be squelched or dismissed. By doing so, you are showing her that you care, that her input is valuable, and that together you can find solutions.
Generalities about gender are helpful starting points, but they should not be used to categorize female clients into neat little homogeneous groups.
For example, as a whole, women are less financially literate than men, but individually they have varying degrees of financial know-how. Take the time to check in with her and ask about her level of financial literacy. An easy way to do this is to have each member of the couple rate their financial know-how on a scale from “1” to “5.” Keep in mind women tend to underestimate their abilities, whereas men overrate their competence. Use these self-reported ratings to determine how to present information in meetings.
Being aware of these common mistakes is a great first step to gaining the trust of your female clients. Many advisors get used to conducting business one way and can unintentionally fall into these traps. A little extra effort will ensure that you’re keeping all your clients happy and not letting opportunity pass you by.