To make sure you are serving female clients well, advisors should already be identifying which assets are at risk and taking action to target women. Now you need to strategically preparing your practice. Introducing and implementing new ideas will require a concerted effort by you and your team. Consider employing some of the following suggestions to align your team and drive change in your organization.
SET GOALS & MEASURE RESULTS
Appreciate some of the unique differences between male and female clients, and understand how your current approach for engaging female clients is working. Then, to ensure that your practice is meeting the needs of female clients, create goals for working with them -- and measure your success.
Measurable goals could focus on:
- Lowering assets at risk
- Increasing assets from new female clients, whether single or married
- Attracting additional assets from existing female clients (single or married)
- Reducing the number of clients lost across your entire client base, and among non-married female clients
- Increasing client satisfaction, both overall and with female clients particularly
- Increasing the referrals provided by female clients -- you can measure number of introductions, number of new clients closed, total new assets, etc.
I suggest tracking your results annually, although many financial advisors prefer to review progress even more frequently.
ENGAGE YOUR TEAM
When establishing your goals, be sure to include members of your team. Their active involvement in setting these goals will help drive their engagement and commitment to this effort.
Achieving success with any practice-wide initiative involves clear communication of your objectives, the potential benefits, and the steps you wish to take with your team. Consider the following strategies and activities:
Communicate practice goals: Host a kickoff meeting with other advisors, relationship managers and key personnel in your practice to share the statistics that show why this initiative is important and what is at risk to your practice. Talk about the assets that could be at risk. Then present areas for practice development and business goals. Ask colleagues for feedback, and refine as appropriate.
Name your initiative, appoint a leader, and establish a working task force: Once you've picked a name and named a leader to keep it on track, create a task force. This should be a cross-section of team members, charged with both embracing this concept as role models in their daily activities and identifying ways to further refine the practices approach. It may be helpful to think of your efforts in engaging female clients as a part of your overall client segmentation and client experience design efforts; that would allow you to tap the same task force or team.
Engage female advisors: Encourage all the female advisors in your practice to explore networking opportunities to build relationships with other women who are centers of influence and prospects. Where client and center-of-influence relationships are currently managed by male advisors, begin to introduce female advisors to the mix. Although research shows that female clients generally do not have a preference in the gender of their advisor, there are some special cases in which they do (particularly, around the time of divorce or widowhood); mixed-gender teams of advisors can learn new ideas and approaches from each others life experiences and points of view.
Encourage ongoing updates: Meet with members of the practice every quarter to share ideas, results and feedback. Review and discuss the findings, and share information and best practices from third parties with your colleagues. Celebrate successes, no matter how small. When the team sees that you are measuring activities and results, and encouraging them to share and learn from each other, they will know that client engagement is an important goal.
Whether you make minor changes in your practice or implement larger-scale changes, your commitment level to this major market opportunity can be well worth your effort over time.
Laura Kogen is vice president within the Practice Management & Consulting organization of Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, a Fidelity Investments company and a leading provider of trading, custody and brokerage services to registered investment advisors, trust institutions and third party administrators.
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