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Women & Wealth: Senior Vice President Anita Knotts Contributing Writer to Forbes.com

09 July 2018

To Serve Its Clients, The Wealth Management Industry Must Recruit And Develop More Women

By: Anita Knotts, Senior Vice President

Women now control more than half of all personal wealth in the United States. If we are going to successfully encourage those women to become more active in managing that wealth, we need financial advisors who understand women’s unique needs, goals and views towards money.

One way to do that more effectively: recruit and develop more women in the financial advisory industry. It’s time to dismantle the remaining misperceptions that keep women from pursuing careers in financial services.

It is time for advisory firms to recognize they need to put extra effort into finding and mentoring talented women — because if they don’t, they risk failing to meet the needs and expectations of a quickly expanding female client base.

Women and Wealth

According to Pew Research, nine out of ten women are expected to be the sole financial decision-maker at some point during their lives. Furthermore, women are expected to inherit 70% of the wealth that will be passed down over the next two generations, according to the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy.

As women take more responsibility for wealth and seek professional assistance, they tilt strongly toward a goals-based approach. In my experience, the average financial-planning conversation with a female client is quite different from one with a male client. Instead of focusing on returns and industry benchmarks, with women, the dialogue is frequently structured around key questions: “Am I going to be financially okay?” “Will I be able to retire at the time I have selected?” “Can I help my children if they need it?” “Am I doing everything I should be doing now to ensure I’m financially secure in 20 years?”

These are complex questions. They are harder to answer than questions about products, strategies or investment risk and performance. They require a holistic approach. They require a financial advisor who listens, empathizes, teaches and coaches.

My work, both as an advisor and as a senior leader at my firm, has always been about educating and engaging, and I’ve seen first-hand how female wealth advisors can naturally gravitate towards these methods. Advisors who embrace these principles can help a client move forward by understanding what that individual wants to take away from a financial conversation, and consequentially being able to tailor their dialogue and approach to accomplish those needs.

Wealth management needs more women on the front lines

According to the CFP Board, only twenty-three percent of Certified Financial Professionals are women. That’s not enough.

Without talents such as reading social cues, paying more attention to the pace and tone of clients’ speech and the ability to form a sincere relationship, a financial advisor simply cannot deliver holistic planning and advice to clients. Financial decisions usually include an emotional component, and in my experience, female advisors tend to address this component with the empathy and directness that can set female clients on the right track.

This article was originally posted on Forbes.comand Ellevatenetwork.com