The predominance of men in the field of financial planning is no secret. But this does not mean that men can interact better with both sexes than women can. I was speaking with an advisor that caters to females. He spends more time in meetings. He takes time to educate his clients, and he makes sure they understand what he recommends. He also makes sure to have chocolate in the room. My wife would certainly appreciate the chocolate.
He successfully works with women, but his success, or more specifically the effort that he puts forth, is not limited to women. The reality is any financial advisor can successfully work with both sexes. The secret though is that the better you are at engaging women as clients, the better you will be as a financial advisor.
Even though the differences between men and women are notable, they do not need to be a hindrance. While the name of the popular book, “Men Are From Mars, Woman Are From Venus,” might suggest otherwise, men from Mars can communicate with women from Venus.
Why attempt to communicate across planets? Here are two reasons that stick out:
- Even though there are more men in financial planning, most men engage in a husband-wife relationship, so even if you think you can escape communicating with women in the workplace (which you can’t), you still need to master the skill at home.
- Women typically outlive men, which means you may need to deal with just women as their financial advisor later in life. Knowing how to effectively communicate with women and easing their concerns can instill confidence in you as their advisor and create a better relationship with your clients.
Early in my career, before I owned my own RIA firm, I had my office in a large building and saw one of the associates, a woman, on a daily basis. But it was not until one day when I asked her about herself that we truly got to know each other. On that particular day, I noticed she was not quite herself, so I asked her if I could help. She proceeded to tell me that her son had decided to enlist. She was distraught as the U.S. was engaged in war.
I then asked her about her feelings and what concerned her most. I did not try to solve her problem. I just tried to understand her (while I was not attempting to land her as a client, the fact that I tried to understand her would have gone a long way in engaging her as a client). The process is not hard. It requires a commitment to ask good questions and a change in priorities to not sell or solve a problem. You just have to want to understand what the person wants to accomplish.
In my experience providing sales training for financial advisors, there are two things that advisors need help with, regardless of which sex they are dealing with: engaging clients and prospecting for clients. For ways to engage clients and attract prospects, try our step-by-step process ideas. Here is a list of what you can choose from.
Getting back to specifically engaging women. It’s not working with a woman that is important; it is learning how to understand what your client – woman or man – wants to achieve. By doing this you: 1. Increase the close rate of your prospects; and 2. Get more referrals from existing clients.
Next time you see your client, ask her or confirm what you already know is her goal for the next two years. People have a hard time conceptualizing more than two year out so keep it shorter-term. Make sure your client articulates her goals in specific terms. If she doesn’t tell you, pull it out of her with questions that dig down and get to her feelings and outcomes of what she wants to happen.
Cross-planet communication is good for us all.