New Findings Offer Actionable Insights for Advisors to Better Engage Women Investors
September 7, 2021 — Boston
As women accumulate wealth, advisors should structure engagement strategies to capture and retain assets
Women represent 50.8% of the U.S. population1, have surpassed men in college education rates, and are increasingly climbing to the highest corporate leadership positions. As their financial power grows, so does the importance of understanding how to serve their unique needs. Cerulli’s latest white paper, produced in partnership with Schwab Asset Management, examines how advisors can better attract, retain, and strengthen client relationships with an influential, yet historically underserved investor market.
The research offers actionable insights for advisors seeking to enhance their client experience for women investors across three stages: client acquisition, engagement and communication, and planning and portfolio construction. First, to capture women investors’ business, advisors must start by identifying a segment of the market that best aligns with their services, processes, and personal passions. While women are not a single market, women within a specific demographic are more likely to share interests, needs, and preferences. After identifying a segment based on common attributes (i.e., profession, passions, life stage, etc.), through which advisors can connect, advisors can develop a tailored approach and set of resources that speaks directly to the needs of these women investors.
“Ultimately, a clear segmentation strategy translates to clarity and intentionality in all other aspects—from authentic business development to targeted service delivery,” says Marina Shtyrkov, associate director at Cerulli.
The next stage of the client experience—client engagement and communication—represents a critical opportunity for advisors to build and reinforce strong relationships with their women clients. According to the research, one in five women investors consider the relationship with their advisor and their trustworthiness to be the driving force behind overall satisfaction. By normalizing and encouraging questions, as well as routinely checking for understanding along the way, advisors are more likely to connect with women investors of any level and convey a collaborative tone.
“To build trust with women investors, advisors need to foster a sense of collaboration, apply active listening skills, and engage both spouses equally,” adds Shtyrkov. “This includes nonverbal communication, use of inclusive language, and proactive outreach.”
Lastly, advisors seeking to work with women investors should consider how their financial planning and portfolio construction process reflects women’s specific needs. In qualitative research interviews with advisors, Cerulli observed that women investors are more inclined than men to engage in a holistic, goals-based process that prioritizes financial planning over investment performance.
For women, investments are more likely to be a vehicle for realizing their goals, so emphasizing the portfolio’s alignment with their values and objectives is critical for advisors who want to address their key concerns. For instance, given that women are more often the primary caretakers for their children or aging parents, advisors should consider offering multigenerational planning services and financial literacy programming for clients’ children to enhance their value proposition to women investors.
“Women are a formidable force increasingly climbing to the highest corporate leadership positions,” says Laura McDowell, regional director at Schwab Asset Management. “As women’s financial power grows, so does the importance of understanding how to serve their unique needs. Advisors who can effectively identify a targeted segment of the women investor market and employ an empathetic approach to serving their needs will be best positioned to win and retain their assets.”
1 U.S. Census Bureau, “QuickFacts: United States,” available at https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045217#PST045217
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Note to editors
These findings and more are from Cerulli's white paper: Best Practices for Advisors When Working with Women Investors.