When my kids were young, their favorite book was “Princess Backwards.” It was a story about a princess who lived in a land where everything was done backwards while she walked and talked forward. However, since she was “different”, they called her Princess Backwards. Of course, in the end, she saved the kingdom and the moral of the story was that “different wasn’t wrong; it was just different.”
Perhaps an odd story to relate to financial advisors more concerned with the “serious” business of managing money than fairy tales. But this story comes to mind every time I speak to a group of advisors who are still busy either denying or failing to recognize that female investors are different than the men most advisors are used to dealing with. They seem to think that saying women are different is further evidence that the women need to change their “differences” if they are to be successful investors. In fact, sometimes even women rail against being labeled different.
The last line in the “Princess Backwards” book says, “…different is a lovely thing to be”. The French more poetically say “vive la difference.” We agree! Retailers celebrate, understand and adjust their store layouts to cater to men’s and women’s different approach to shopping. They know that, when it comes to shopping, generally women prefer to “browse” while men “hunt”. This understanding serves everyone well. The retailers make more sales and the shoppers are happy.
So why so much angst in the financial world about saying women are “different”?
The problem seems to stem from the misconception that, when we say “women are different”, we mean they are a homogenous group and there is a tendency to think that we advocate treating them, as one article put it, “like Beanie Babies in La La Land”. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
When it comes to women and investing, women want to be treated with the same respect as men have enjoyed – that includes being treated as an individual, not being condescended to, not being stereotyped, not being given the same templated financial plan everyone gets. It seems obvious and simple enough and perhaps therein lies the problem.
Many advisors think they get it. “I know women,” one advisor tells us, “I’m married to one and have two daughters.” Not to mention that his office was more like a male den than anything approaching female-friendly. He went on to “tell us” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) that he knows how all about how to pander to women. If he only knew how poorly this attitude reflects on him and his practice.
Yet, in the midst of this lack of connection to women’s wants when it comes to investing, there are financial advisors who truly understand and embrace that female investors are different. They are the ones who leave their ego at the door and make the time to learn what women really want. They are the ones who are growing their practice at an unpresented rate and benefit the most from the financial powerhouses that women represent.
They are also the advisors who will eat the lunch of all those who’d rather be right than successful when it comes to serving the most significant group of people with considerable wealth to manage.
Don’t let someone else eat your lunch! Take a course today — learn how to connect with women the easy way — and watch your practice grow.
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