A new poll indicates that more men than women may be willing to hire women as their financial planners.
The snarkily titled Perfect Woman poll, jointly sponsored by 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair, asked 1,017 people nationwide a series of not exactly pressing questions. To wit: Do all women eventually become their mothers? (More than 70% said no). Which television character would you most like to marry? (Choices include Gloria of Modern Family and Liz Lemon of 30 Rock). Which popular movie would make the perfect woman no longer perfect? (Top answers: Fatal Attraction and Twilight).
Yet there was one interesting question tucked into the survey -- asking respondents to name which of five professional roles they would they feel most comfortable having a women fulfill. Those five choices included doctor, financial planner, boss, car mechanic contractor -- as well as an all equally option.
SECOND AFTER DOCTORS
While doctors won out with 48% of the total, financial planners came in a distant second at 18%. That was still ahead of the other options (11% for boss, 3% for car mechanic and 2% for contractor, although 12% chose all equally).
Of potential note for the planning profession -- which continues its effort to attract both more female advisors and clients -- is that more men than women said they would feel comfortable with a female planner: 24% of men versus 11% of women. The disparity runs contrary to the common belief that women clients will be more comfortable with female planners.
Women are typically more critical of female professionals than our male counterparts, so it is not entirely surprising that men may be more willing to work with a female financial planner, says Ann Hughes, a consultant focused on making the financial services industry more female-friendly. Men typically exhibit less gender bias when working with professionals, and the primary driver of selecting a professional [for most men] is not gender.
Still, Hughes says, the survey result is a departure from many other studies, which have found female clients evenly split in their stated preferences between male and female planners.
That planners made the list at all might come as a surprise, given that the still-young field has yet to rise to the level of prominence (or even awareness) accorded the medical and legal professions. As of last year, just two universities nationwide Texas Tech and the University of Missouri had elevated financial planning to departmental status. Many students now graduating with financial planning degrees report that they had not heard of the profession before entering college.
But that lack of awareness may be shifting across society more generally.
I think [financial planning] is on a lot of Americans' radars right now, especially after the recession, 60 Minutes spokesman Kevin Tedesco wrote in an email about the poll. When millions of baby boomers are in or nearing retirement, financial planning really resonates. Doctors are extremely important because, as they say, your health is everything. But a financial planner should be close second; because if you lose all your money, you've got nothing!
Hughes agrees: I think the real takeaway with this study is confirmation that financial planning, whether by a male or a female, is now a mainstream service and is seen as an essential life need surpassing other traditional professions such as attorneys and tax professionals.
LAWYERS NOT INCLUDED
The poll further found that just 9% of men and 8% of women said they would be least comfortable with a woman financial planner.
Past 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair polls have inquired into the nature of comedy and humor, and the definition of an American citizen or patriot today. Last months poll was titled The Perfect Man. For this months survey, polling firm Science Research Solutions of Media, Penn., conducted its research by calling people over five days in June.
For those planners keeping score against friends in other professions, its worth noting that lawyer was not even offered as an option to those people who picked up the phone.
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