Women and investing: What is your brand?

Executive summary:

  • By 2030, $30 trillion, or two-thirds of U.S. personal wealth, will be controlled by females
  • Women are increasingly making decisions for themselves and their families in all other aspects of their lives, and financial advice is no different
  • Women-only events can be a way to achieve that deeper connection with this important demographic and help advisors not only retain their current business but potentially grow it

Every day is an opportunity for a brand to make an impression on us as we decide which products or services to use. Usually that experience is highly personalized and highly engaging. Whether it's researching our next vacation, planning a home renovation project, or as simple as placing an online order for coffee, high touch, high personalization are how consumers expect to be engaged nowadays.

Brands have an even greater opportunity to make a good impression on women given the enormous purchasing power we have. From groceries, to social events, vacations, a child's education, clothing or activities, women contribute $7.6 trillion to the gross domestic product of the United States every year through the decisions they make about how they spend money1. In fact, women account for 85% of all consumer purchasing decisions.2

Yet when I think about how the financial services industry markets their products and services to female investors, I come up short on that high touch, high personalization approach. Let's face it, male investors have traditionally been the target of full-service financial advisors, likely stemming from the outdated assumption of who is the head of household and who calls the shots about where assets are placed.

But that may be a faulty assumption. All signs point to women as the new face of wealth. According to McKinsey & Company, by 2030, $30 trillion or two-thirds of U.S. personal wealth will be controlled by females due to the powerful generational wealth transfer happening in the U.S.3 when assets will be passed down from the aging baby boomers to the surviving spouse, and then down the inheritance line to the children. And because women have longer life expectancies than men, outliving them by five to six years on average, women are set to be a big beneficiary of this wealth transfer.

Thankfully, assumptions and stereotypes are changing for the better within the advisory community. Nonetheless, I can't help but think there are some financial advisors who still harbor the misperception that male advisors shouldn't engage female prospects and clients or host events aimed specifically for them, thinking "why would they want to hear from me?" Some of the reasons I hear when speaking to financial advisors include:

  • There's no need for such an event because I have a great relationship with the husband or partner who has previously been the main contact with providing financial advice;
  • I don't think women would be very interested in attending such an event because their partner has been the main point of contact;
  • As a man, do I have credibility to coordinate such an event;
  • I'm overwhelmed at the prospect of coordinating an event tailored to a different audience.

Respectfully, I beg to differ. In fact, I've participated as a speaker at women-only events organized by male advisors and have personally witnessed the advisors' awe at the large response rate, the engagement, and the referrals they've received because of the event. It reminds me of Kevin Costner's voice in Field of Dreams, when he whispers, "If you build it, they will come." The "it" may not be a baseball diamond, but rather planning events exclusively for women. Simply by putting intention and a plan in place could mean getting in front of a wave of wealth that simply cannot be ignored. That's because women are:

  • Poised to control 70% of the $41 trillion in inter-generational wealth transfer over the next 40 years4
  • Living longer than men,5
  • Make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce and earning more than they ever have in the past.
  • Launch 70% of all new businesses in the U.S., which are growing at twice the national rate.6
  • Are likely to refer you 26 times in her lifetime compared to a man's 11 times.7
  • Whether they earn it, accumulate it, marry it, divorce it or inherit it, 90% of women will be in control of their personal finances at some point in their lives.8

Deepening relationships with female investors

Women-only events can be a way to achieve that deeper connection with this important demographic and help advisors not only retain their current business but potentially grow it. As with any event, it's important you tailor the event to the group you are hosting.

Below are a few tips we've heard from advisors who have hosted successful events for their female clients and prospects. Of course, the trick lies in organizing an event that is appealing to women. Without wanting to stereotype, the typical golf scrambles, baseball games or chart-laden presentations over a steak dinner may not be as big a draw for women as they tend to be for men.

Tips for hosting a successful women-only event:

  1. Make the event personal and memorable, by connecting your clients' personal preferences, interests and what they find most enjoyable. Host events that incorporate special interests like sip and paint or flower arrangement classes, tennis or pickleball events, health and nutrition workshops, fashion-themed night with wardrobe consultants, as well as wine, whisky, or coffee tastings.
  2. Encourage guests to bring their adult daughters, nieces, sisters, women they know who are in transition, or simply friends to come along. Women are traditionally family and community caregivers and are usually open to bringing others who could benefit from hearing about a relevant topic. Therefore, women's events may deepen relationships with your business, refer you more and possibly lead to more business.
  3. Partner with a female advisor, especially as you perfect hosting women-focused events. Also, let female team members own and drive the event.
  4. Listen to your female clients. Create a women-only advisory board. Not only is this a good business decision but could lead to hosting successful women-focused events. A dedicated and engaged female advisory board could easily help fill a room at a women's event.
  5. Acknowledge that your goal is to connect. Sometimes all it takes is introducing the event, then acknowledging the obvious: a line like “I recognize I'm the only man in the room" all but guarantees laughter and applause – not to mention a new appreciation for the guy trying to communicate with women about their investments.

The bottom line

Don't assume that women don't want to be targeted and marketed to in a highly personalized manner, especially when it comes to your financial advice and services. They are increasingly making decisions for themselves and their families in all other aspects of their lives, and financial advice is no different. I'm seeing many advisors engage female clients with more intention, by hosting events designed exclusively for women and ensuring they are part of the financial decision-making process when formulating their plan, even when you already have a solid relationship with their spouse. It might feel like you're out of your comfort zone at first, but it's proven successful for advisors and female investors alike. Time and time again, advisors have told me how impressed they are with attendance and engagement at such events – and how rewarding it is when, at the end of the event, key female prospects request a meeting.

5 ways your Russell Investments team can help:

  1. Women Wired to Invest: Your Russell Investments Regional Director can share additional facts about how women are wired and tips on how to serve them best. 
  2. Women Wired to Invest Client Presentation: Invite your female clients and prospects to a special event and have a Russell Investments expert share how a trusted financial advisor like you can help women unlock their financial power and take control of their future.
  3. Get Organized Checklist: Provide your female clients with a checklist to get them organized on issues that will shape their financial future. 
  4. Memorable Client Appreciation Events and Gifts 1-pager: A planning document with events and experiences to WOW your female clients.
  5. Deep Discovery: Engage your female clients and prospects through a deep discovery process designed to identify their true priorities.

1 https://www.cnb.com/business-banking/insights/personal-finance-for-women.html

2 https://girlpowermarketing.com/statistics-purchasing-power-women/

3 https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/financial-services/our-insights/women-as-the-next-wave-of-growth-in-us-wealth-management. Source: Kingsbury, Kathleen Burns.

4 https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/10/op-ed-the-future-of-socially-responsible-investing-is-in-female-hands.html

5 Source: 2010 U.S. Census

6 Source: Kingsbury, Kathleen Burns. How to Give Financial Advice to Women: Attracting and Retaining High-Net Worth Female Clients, McGraw-Hill Education, 2012, p. ix

7 Source: Passi, Delia. Winning the Toughest Customer: The Essential Guide to Selling to Women.

8 https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/30/heres-how-women-can-become-financially-independent.html