As the first male boomers begin to die, their widows will be in control of the family assets long before the kids inherit them. In fact, on average, a widow will spend 16 years without her husband. Yet most advisors with older clients have done little to build a relationship with the wives of the couple clients they serve.
To be fair, in all likelihood the husband was the primary contact and the wife frequently showed little interest in getting involved. Nevertheless, the reality is that 80% of widows leave the family’s financial advisor when their husbands die saying, “I never really knew him and I wanted to find someone I could work with.”
The writing is on the wall.
Advisors who don’t want to lose accounts when the husband dies must engage their wives – even if these women resist. But don’t wait until there is a crisis, it is never too early to start getting the wives of your couple clients engaged. You can’t assume that just because “Harry” has been a great client and friend for years, you will keep the account when he dies.
Of course, engaging the female partner is not always easy. You may be faced with excuses like, “My husband handles all this,” “I find it boring” and even, “I don’t understand all the jargon.”
So what’s an advisor to do?
- Enlist the husband/partner early — by appealing to his sense of responsibility for his partner with a question like – “Harry, what would happen if you became ill or died? Would Ellen be comfortable overseeing the portfolio? What can we do to involve her and make sure she’s ready to take over if need be?”
- Uncover what’s important to her — by showing interest in her point of view and the issues particular to her. Make your next meeting about her and engage her in conversation by asking about her dreams for the future. Always remember that women tend to see finances more in terms of life issues, and less about asset allocation or investment returns.
- Build her confidence in the investment process — assure her that you will work with her to put finances in a way that makes sense to her. By avoiding jargon and speaking in terms of real outcomes (“Yes you will be able to support your handicapped child”), you will be far more likely to forge a meaningful relationship with her.
To make sure you retain the account of a couple when the husband dies, you must engage the female partner: enlist her partner to bring her into the conversation, uncover what’s important to her and build her confidence in the investment process. Start early and don’t wait until the husband becomes ill or worse.
Learn how to Retain Female Clients through this online course and earn CE credits. Or visit us at here and learn everything there is to know about what women want and how to serve them well.
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