Marketing Financial Services to Women Part II: Women, Investing and Overcoming the Confidence Gap


Empowering women to seize control of their financial lives is a movement whose time has come.  Women are reporting a greater interest in and knowledge about financial products and investment services, but when it comes to taking action …. they report a confidence gap.

Over cocktails around the pool of a beautiful lakefront home recently, I unexpectedly generated a small crowd of women – and it wasn’t to dish about my shoes.  The topic was investing and this group of affluent women was all ears.  Highly educated and sophisticated, some of them were high earning professionals while others hadn’t worked since before their children were born.  They all shared one thing in common: a strong interest in learning how to make informed decisions about their finances.

“My husband and I sit down with our advisor once a year, we give him money and frankly, I don’t know where it goes,” said one woman. “I look at what’s going on around us and realize that it’s time for me to get smart and get active.”

Empowering women to seize control of their financial lives is a movement whose time has come.  The economic crisis these last two years has been a wake up to women to get more actively involved in the financial planning and investment decision making that will shape their future.

Many advisors will scoff at the idea that financial management and investing is somehow different for women than men.  If the sheer impact of global female wealth doesn’t persuade you, look at the evidence.  A lot of progress has been made to understand how to best communicate with women about money and about their investment decision-making process.  While women are masterful at household budgeting and financial management, when it comes to investing, they report that investment products are complicated, overwhelming and time consuming.

As an independent advisor, here are three tactics that you can execute to help women clients close their investing confidence gap.  If you read the first post in this series, you will remember that not all women are the same and you will likely wish to adjust these tactics to suit the needs of your specific niche audience.

1.    Empower Her by Educating Her. I hear a persistent complaint about working with women:  it takes so much time!  Managing your time effectively is a challenge, but taking your time with women is your biggest client-management opportunity.  Women look to their advisor as the number one source for financial education. As their knowledge increases, so does their confidence to make informed decisions.

Your role is to simplify the complex for your client, while leveraging your time most efficiently.

In survey after survey, women cite financial planning and investing as their top financial literacy priorities.  You can take advantage of this knowledge by creating two presentations – one about the financial planning process (including how to choose an advisor) and the second about the investment process.  These presentations will structure the direction of your meetings while leaving plenty of time and psychic space for questions and discussion along the way.

2.      Turn Her Learning Preferences Into Marketing Opportunities. Some of the most valuable information to come out of the research into women and money over the last decade is about learning preferences.

For credible financial information, women look to their advisor, friends and family, the Internet and the web sites of financial firms.  You can take away to key points from these preferences. First, women prefer personal or group learning experiences.  Second, women complain – correctly – that financial information is technical, hard to understand and filled with unintelligible jargon. Most of all: it’s BORING.

While many financial services marketers encourage client entertaining in unique venues, I will encourage you to create educational events for women.

If you offer value and community, women will attend. FINRA research profiled the investment behavior of women compared with men and documented what most advisors already know:  women are conservative investors.  Generally, women will choose capital preservation over growth. An educational event with other women is an effective way to help women expand their investment horizons.

If you can deliver information in a creative and interesting manner, all the better.

Look to these players for ideas about how to creatively present financial information.  Citibank’s Women & Co. program provides financial education, events and community to its affluent female clients., a new start up web site for women, offers financial information and education in hip, creative and interesting ways.  One of the most creative events is LearnVest’s Financial Bootcamp. Eleanor Blayney, a veteran advisor and former partner in Sullivan, Bruyette, Speros and Blayney, is targeting an older, wealthier woman client. Eleanor is speaking widely in the press about financial planning for women and has created a seminar business model that she is rolling out to a national network of women advisors.

3.    Tap Into Her Values. Women and their values around money are very different from men.   Women look for opportunities to make investments that align with their values, even if those investments generate low returns.  Women seek to invest in other women, to protect children, animals and the environment.  To a woman, this is her way to invest in a better world and a brighter future for her children and her community.

By Bess Gallanis.

This story, Women, Investing and the Confidence Gap, first appeared as the third in a three-part series on Wealth Management Marketing, August 2010.




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