|By M.P. DUNLEAVEY|
IMAGINE that you work for a financial company. You’ve plowed through stacks of research showing that women — who are increasingly educated and affluent — could be a big source of revenue for you. Now what?
Do you paint the reception area a nice shade of coral? Put handbag hooks on the bathroom doors? Provide sensitivity training to your staff?
If you’re thinking that it can’t be that hard to bring female customers in the door, let me bring you up to speed: Women control trillions of dollars of wealth in
Every year at its national conference, for example,
“I always say no,” Ms. Healy said. She cited research showing that women as clients don’t necessarily prefer to work with female advisers — any more than they want pink-themed websites.
Companies know this, yet there’s a frustrating lack of agreement about how to go about it. Companies like
Consider the first group. As Vanguard learned through a two-year study, many women prefer advisers to focus on life goals, and not just on mutual funds and other investments. But many men like that personalized touch, too, said
I get that. It’s good client relations to consider each person’s needs. But many women are struggling to feel in control of their finances, given certain hurdles of their own. (Knowledge gaps + anxiety = shame.) Seventy-seven percent of women want to be involved in day-to-day investment decisions,a
EVEN the companies that take more specific approaches to women are still trying different strategies. In 2012, Pax World Investments announced a Women and Wealth program for advisers that helps them assess their businesses in terms of how well they’re reaching and keeping women as clients.
The same year at
I’m sympathetic to this approach. Money itself may be gender-neutral — we all swipe our credit cards the same way. But women often handle their finances in a way that’s remarkably different from men’s. We like to test the waters, gather opinions and (alas, poor
That study, a survey of 6,000 people in
Many women today prefer companies and advisers with “gender smarts,” said
So what approach is best for women — and how can
“It’s a multifaceted challenge,” Ms.
If coral-colored reception areas do the trick, great. But for the sake of creating financial parity at long last, I’m inclined to think there’s nothing like a carrot to get people moving.
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