You read in headlines several times a week: Hire Women Advisors. And with a lot of good reason behind it…
Why the recent push to recruit women advisors? Of course, it’s politically correct to do so and satisfies a diversity initiative. From a business growth perspective, studies have shown that women clients prefer to work with women advisors. And it’s always a PR bonanza to hire women.
And while women may be reading this and cringing, truth be told, these statements represent the reality that we are dealing with. As a woman – and having worked with some of the industry’s leading firms and top female advisors – I’ve heard the story from both sides of the table: there are opportunities that are being missed.
Currently, men outnumber women in the advisory industry 4 to 1. That’s a big spread considering that research is telling us that women seem to be naturally well-suited for the profession. And as Eleanor Blayney, Consumer Advocate for the CFP Board, wrote in the Wall Street Journal in October of last year, “Studies are now beginning to show that adding more women to professional teams fosters creativity, workplace morale and even enhances profitability.”
Makes sense to me. Anecdotally speaking, the women advisors I have been privileged to work with over the years have been amongst the most well organized, responsible, responsive, personable and consultative people.
I am not suggesting, by any means, that male financial advisors are any less worthy or client-centric. Realize that I am certainly not the first to recognize that as a whole, women financial advisors seem to embody what it is to be a great steward for clients’ personal and financial goals. Studies have shown that women have a greater tendency towards empathy and education—thereby creating a greater comfort level and connection with women clients in particular, who are looking for someone who clearly understands their needs.
At a recent TD Ameritrade LINC conference, panelists agreed that if advisory firms are going to reach more women as clients, they’re going to have to hire more of them as well. But doing that will require some changes from a cultural perspective. So we’ve developed this list of 9 considerations based on our experience in working with both female and male advisors and their stories about where they have seen success and failure—and how you can develop an organizational environment that both attracts and retains female advisors.
- Nothing turns someone off more than the feeling that she is being sold to. So don’t be pushy.
- Listen and allow others to be heard.
- Show that you have the horsepower and smarts to meet their needs, advocate for them and support their business.
- Attention to detail matters…A LOT! Nothing will kill a deal faster than dropping a ball, missing a deadline or not following through on a commitment.
- Connect the dots. And don’t spew platitudes. Instead SHOW them how you will help solve for whatever the issue(s) at hand.
- Stay in close touch: More communication than less almost always wins the day.
- It is critical to treat them as equals—look them in the eye, be sure their questions are answered and needs are met.
- Demonstrate understanding of their business and who they are as people. Look for the areas where they are frustrated currently and suggest creative ways to solve for the issues.
- Introduce them to other successful advisors at your firm who can talk about the culture, how you support them, how they’ve grown since joining, and answer any questions honestly and without agenda.
Generally speaking, women are more risk averse than their male counterparts and as such, it usually takes more pain to make them choose to leave behind what’s familiar to them. But, once that pain threshold is reached, women will typically want to rip off the proverbial Band-Aid and move through the decision making process pretty quickly. The decision to leave is almost never motivated solely by personal financial gain, but instead by being able to do a better job for clients.
So, while men may outnumber women in this industry, you should expect a dramatic shift over the coming years. Consider that an opportunity for your business, and do what you can now to be more attractive to potential women candidates because they have plenty of other fish in the sea to choose from.