CHICAGO – Boiling down the reasons why women may actually be better at financial planning than men, a panel at this year's Women Advisors Forum found four.
And yes, women's intuition is one of them.
“I think it’s a perfect profession for women,” said Yohnee C. Gordon, chief operating officer at JMG Financial Group and one of the panelists.
In one of her first client meetings when she was a younger advisor, Gordon explained that something “just didn’t feel right.” Her mentor at the time simply sat down and began going into the agenda with the clients until Gordon stopped him.
“I said, ‘Excuse me for one second, but is everything ok?’” she said. “And then they just broke down. They had just gotten some terrible new about their daughter and some health issues.”
Gordon said that if she hadn’t trusted her intuition and asked what she did that the meeting would have been completely different. “From that moment I was their trusted advisor.”
Being able to pick up on unspoken cues is only one benefit to being emotionally attuned, added Sharon Oberlander, managing director of wealth management at the Oberlander Group at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.
“What women are really good at is getting into good relationships with people,” Oberlander said. “We know how to ask the questions that get people to open up about what it is they’re worried about or want accomplished.”
She added her male colleagues had to learn how to ask these questions because it was not intuitive to them. “How many guys get together with their best friends and talk about their kids, their marriage, their worries and their finance?” she asked. “Women do this all the time. Women share.”
BETTER AT REFERRALS?
The growth of women advisors could be better, Gordon said. For last decade the percentage of female CFPs has remained at 23%, according to the CFP Board.
Oberlander said women advisors should be recognized as a business advantage because of their networking abilities.
“In my experience women are the best referrers,” said Oberlander. “I have received more referrals from women than from men.”
According to her, many male advisors feel that referrals for clients can only be about financial issues when it comes from a financial planner. However, Oberlander explained, “They might need a good restaurant.”
They may also need help balancing work and home, a challenge Gordon said women advisors are better at managing.
“I found that it was really important for me to include my family in my career,” said Gordon, adding that by including her children, now young adults, in her career has actually helped them.
“It has helped them interact with people. They know business and adequate,” she said. “They know things that I think can actually help them.”
Additionally, Oberlander said she tells women that financial planning is a career that offers more flexibility than most. “It is results-driven and you can basically set your own schedule,” she said. “As long as you’re getting the result.”
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