Besides a handful of sponsors and wait staff, I was the only male in a room of 206 female advisors that attended the Women Advisors Forum in Boston on Oct. 25. Of the day’s presentations, exercises and networking, here are ten insights that sum up the event:
1. Communication is key. Success in the theater is about communication, similar to what advisors do on a daily basis, said Lynn Torgrove and Patricia-Maria Weinmann, co-founders of Gabriel Communications. Life is a performance. Bringing in new business can be dependent on how one presents herself. Humans make assumptions on not only what people say, but how they say it. Prospects often determine if they want to work with someone based on how advisors communicate. Only 7% of the impact of what is said is based on the script. It’s the other 93% that most often makes the connection. Successful advisors must consider all four areas of communication: body, face, voice, and text delivery.
2. Diversity drives results. Just like investing in females has proven to be a powerful strategy to eliminating global poverty, studies have shown that companies that empower and advance women benefit in the long run, said Joseph Keefe, president & CEO of Pax World Management and the conference’s first-ever male speaker. Diversification drives results, even share prices. The role of women can be critical for business success, so companies need to do a better job of creating gender equality and female advancement. Not only is it the right thing to do, it is also a smart investment strategy.
3. The new world order. Changes have accelerated with the financial crisis. China is growing at a faster than expected pace, said Conseulo Mack, TV anchor and managing editor of PBS’s Consuelo Mack Wealthtrack. With emerging powers having most of the population and land mass, along with higher savings (as a percentage of GDP), the imbalance in the markets is shifting. Thus, clients need to have exposure to the global markets.
In 2023, there will be ten new retirees for each new working-age person. Because there will be more demand for fewer goods, new inflationary pressures might increase.
With the internet age, market volatility is most likely here to stay. It requires a new mindset. For this reason and others, every portfolio needs a protective core (and a cushion of liquidity) that might include cash, high-quality bonds, managed futures and gold.
4. Women are overlooked. Few women are in high-ranking positions within companies, and the financial services industry scores the worst in service to women, said Tracey Flaherty, senior vice president of government relations at Natixis Global Associates. Seventy percent of women change advisor relationships when the husband dies. That’s because most advisors work with the head of the household and do not have a relationship with the spouse. It is important to figure out how to keep the relationships and how to work with the next generation.
5. Differences in working styles. There are four categories of people: ideas focused, people driven, data centric and action oriented, said Anne Miller, a trainer and consultant in New York. Knowing the type of individual you are interacting with can help build relationships, an important skill for advisors to generate trust.
6. Visibility. Be active in the community and join several of organizations, advised Elaine Bedel, president and founder of Bedel Financial Consulting. Get on individuals’ short lists. That way they will call you when they need an advisor.
7. A conversion process. Set up the first meeting with a prospect to gather all the information you can, said Marcie Behman, senior vice president of investments and wealth management advisor at Merrill Lynch. Then have a follow-up meeting a week or two later to present your recommendations. Keep the prospect moving along, as time kills all deals. Once you get a new client onboard, work to get all their assets.
8. Connecting. One good question to ask a prospect, said Gina Bolvin, president of Bolvin Wealth Management, is “what do you like to do in your free time?” This can open up the conversation and make it possible to connect on a personal level.
9. Social responsibility. Our decisions about money can have a big impact on the world around us, pointed out Amy Domini, founder & CEO of Domini Social Investments. Build a business around a passion, and your clients will reward you for it.
10. Appreciation. Genrally speaking, for me this event reinforced that in a male-dominated industry there is still a need for improved diversity. Women bring a lot to the table that men do not. Thus, organizations should strive to have a strong balance to best reach their full potential.
Mike Byrnes founded Byrnes Consulting to provide consulting services to help advisors become even more successful. His expertise is in business planning, marketing strategy, business development, client service and management effectiveness, along with several other areas. Read more at www.byrnesconsulting.com.