Women control 52% of the wealth in this country, a huge change from a generation ago. However, the advisor world has not caught up with this new reality. Plus, only about one in every ten advisors are women! I say men are warriors when it comes to investing because they’re often looking for hard performance numbers… they are trying to capture the alpha. When the advisor is a man, it’s a communication style that works well. Men also tend to take much more risk with money when they invest. Women are different. The female approach tends to be, invest with caution. Women want to preserve wealth so their values tend to be: show me how this money can last over the course of my lifetime, how can this money provide security for my family? These are entirely attitudes toward managing money.
So how do you bridge that gap when working with an advisor? Both styles can work, and when used together, usually provide an investment plan that can both go after returns and remain cautious about risk. It’s all about asking the right questions, and for the advisors to be willing to avoid letting performance dominate the discussions and engage more with a woman’s priorities. Women need to get much more comfortable with risk; after all, that security you’re looking for is easier to achieve with more assets! Risk is inherent in investing. Men can do better by learning the laws of risk and the math of losses, because too much gambling can destroy wealth. (Men do tend to lose more money than women when viewed from a risk perspective).
The message is getting across. Women are expected to be making 2/3 of investment decisions by 2020. A recent survey by the Boston Consulting Group showed that 70% of women wanted advisors to tailor their services to women. And companies like Fidelity are beginning to educate and train their advisors on working with women. But until the advisory world really catches up, educating yourself is the best way to bolster confidence and get the most out of a relationship with a financial advisor.