Men and women both work, invest, and make decisions about money, but when it comes to financial wellness, women have unique needs and challenges. The gender pay gap, for instance, means that on average women make only 82 cents for every dollar a man makes. This inequality, combined with women being more likely to take time away from their careers for caregiving, translates into greater difficulties saving for retirement. And because women tend to live longer than men, they need to fund longer retirements, too.

To help women investors secure holistic financial wellness, you need to understand these challenges and integrate them into your relationship-building strategies and financial recommendations. Here are three ways to get started.

1. Assess Individual Needs

Despite the unique financial challenges women face, each client's individual background and experiences will lead to different concerns. Recently divorced or widowed clients, for example, may be more focused on financial independence than on long-term savings. Others may be more interested in funding a business enterprise or building a financial foundation for the next generation. According to New York Life Investments (NYLI) research, 58% of women said they struggle to identify their risk tolerance—but that leaves 42% who don't find this a challenge. Whatever your female clients' specific financial needs may be, it's key that you work to understand them, as 57% of women told NYLI.

To build strong relationships with your female clients, ask about and address each client's specific needs and interests. Although it's useful to approach these conversations with an understanding of how gender inequality relates to finances, remember that each person's experience is unique. Financial wellness might mean something slightly—or greatly—different to each client, and it's important to tailor your recommendations accordingly.

2. Forge a Personal Connection

As you assess each client's individual needs, it's critical to get to know them more deeply and forge a personal connection. Cultivating relationships where your clients feel comfortable and trusting makes it easier for you to learn all the questions, anxieties, and goals that feed into their bigger financial pictures. Women investors are looking for this closer bond, too. Of those who switched financial advisors in the past two years, 29% cited a lack of personal connection as the reason.

To create relationships where clients are willing to openly share their needs and concerns, make time during meetings to get to know your clients outside of their finances. Discussing topics like family, core values, professional pursuits, and even hobbies can help you get to know your clients better and gain insights into what financial health and security mean to them. Remember that strong personal connections run in both directions—don't be afraid to share from your life, too.

3. Build Confidence with Education

It's not surprising that the majority of women investors cite investment knowledge as the most important factor in choosing a financial advisor. After all, financial wellness is hard to achieve if advisors don't bring this specialization to the table, and NYLI research revealed that some women lack confidence in their own financial knowledge. That said, many of these clients are interested in learning more, and you have an opportunity to bolster relationships with educational resources.

Based on your clients' unique financial needs and knowledge gaps, you can offer a range of educational resources, from informal Q&As to online courses and even social networking events. Where possible, help your clients see the connections between new concepts and their financial goals so they can feel confident about their plan for financial wellness. Empowering clients with education can also lead to a more participatory form of decision-making where they understand how all their interests—and your recommendations—align.

Financial wellness means something different to every client. Work with each one on an individual basis to learn how best to support them.

Insights presented in this report are derived from 2019 & 2020 studies conducted by NY Life Investments in partnership with RTi Research.

"New York Life Investments" is both a service mark, and the common trade name, of certain investment advisors affiliated with New York Life Insurance Company.

The writer of this report is a freelance writer and not affiliated with New York Life Investments.

The information contained herein is general in nature and is provided solely for educational and informational purposes.


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