Widows may not be so eager to boot their advisors after all. Across two big generational groups, a vast majority of women - 93% in the Silent Generation age group and 78% among Generation X - say they would stay with their current advisor, even after the death of a spouse or partner, according to a recent study by Russell Investments.

The research, which focused specifically on women with substantial assets who already work with professional financial advisors, runs counter to widespread reports that women will quickly dump their husband's advisors after being widowed or divorced.

"Women are an attractive target client segment for financial advisors given their growing economic power," says Jaylene Howard, consulting director for Russell's U.S. advisor-sold business. In part because the study found these women are more likely than their male counterparts to focus on long-term planning issues, she added, "they can be predisposed to take a longer-term perspective, are assuming greater responsibility for investing decisions and value tailored guidance from an advisor."

More than half of the Gen X (ages 32-47) and Silent Generation (ages 67-80) women - 52% and 63%, respectively - share the responsibility for managing their households' savings and investments. Additionally, nearly one-third of Gen X women and a quarter of Silent Generation women have more responsibility than their partners for managing their households' finances, according to the findings.

A significant majority - 86% of Gen X and 87% of Silent Generation women - cited active listening skills as the most important factor to a successful and lasting relationship with their advisors.

Drivers of overall advisor satisfaction, however, vary by age group. For Gen X women, the critical factors are effective recommendations tied to their concerns and clear explanations (adapted to their level of knowledge) of how decisions may affect them in the future. For Silent Generation women, personal service and a personal connection outside the business relationship were most important.

The study polled 501 Gen X and 400 Silent Generation women who worked with professional financial advisors. The Gen X women had at least $100,000 in investable assets, while the Silent Generation women had investable assets of at least $500,000. The study also queried 343 advisors about their relationships with women in these age groups.


Margarida Correia is associate editor of Bank Investment Consultant.

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