Although the importance of female client referrals is obvious, the best strategy for financial advisors may be more elusive.

That is in large part because, as with male clients, there is no single approach that will work for everyone, clients or advisors.

More than half of women, or 56%, share household financial decision-making, and 41% make all their financial decisions alone, according to a 2014 Ameriprise survey.

The survey also found that a mere 4% said that they aren’t involved in financial decisions at all.

Yet advisors who say they “focus on women” will likely find that isn’t enough, says Russ Thornton, whose Atlanta advisory firm, Wealthcare for Women, is part of Wealthcare Capital Management, a registered investment advisor in Richmond, Va.

“‘Women’ in general isn't a target market, as they represent approximately half of the population,” he says.

Instead, Thornton suggests that advisors focus on a specific group, such as female business owners, divorcees, widows or female trial attorneys.

“Only after you've narrowed your focus will more specific referral generating activities become apparent,” he says.

For example, an advisor who focuses on female entrepreneurs could speak to women’s business groups and network with other professionals who specialize in serving women’s business needs.

“If you're focused on women business owners, you can seek related speaking opportunities,” Thornton says. “You can try to be a guest on podcasts that address women business owner issues and topics.”

Thornton also suggests that advisors concentrate on professional development in areas that address the needs of female business owners.

“The best thing you can do is be narrow and specific in approaching your target market,” he says.

Advisors who narrow their focus may get more benefits from the effort, attention and time on the groups on which they concentrate, Thornton says.

Advisor Gina Chironis says that a significant segment of her business is from what she calls “the sandwich generation,” clients who have to worry about taking care of their parents as well as their own children.

Those responsibilities are often taken on by women, says Chironis, president and chief executive of Clarity Wealth Management in Irvine, Calif.

But many of her clients want to discuss numbers.


“I have female clients who are very investment-focused, and that’s all they want to talk about,” she says. “Your message has to be about the client, conveying that you want to hear what they want.”

The trick is getting those clients to make referrals.

“We assume clients know everything that we do, but they don’t. They think you only do the one thing that’s important to them,” Chironis says.

So she sometimes sets up meetings with clients just for the purpose of getting feedback, separate from regular planning sessions.

Those meetings help Chironis refine her relationship, but they also offer her another occasion to explain to clients what she does, and she hopes that keeps her on their minds so that they will recommend her services to others.

Paul Hechinger is a New York-based freelance writer.

This story is part of a 30-day series on how to generate the best referrals.