Hughes emphasized that women have unique lifestyle differences. On average women live four to six years longer than their male counterparts and frequently find themselves “smack dab in the middle of a sandwich situation, supporting elderly parents while still raising children. Women are the exact demographic that need the assistance of the financial services industry but instead of flocking to females in droves, the industry seems to shy away from this growing demographic because it has been a traditionally male dominated industry. At the same time, many women feel that financial professionals don’t understand our unique needs and often talk down to us. In a study by MetLife, 32 percent of women left their financial advisor because they did not listen to their needs or because they did not trust them. The financial services’ industry cannot continue on this path – the very demographic that has the largest need, wealth and spending power is being marginalized at best and often just plain ignored,” Hughes said.
Two successful women entrepreneurs shared their thoughts on building a business while balancing other life commitments. Persistence, passion and focus were three of the qualities they embraced. “My mother always told me to have an elephant’s memory,” said one of the consumer panelists. “Forgive, but never forget.”
The two consumer panelists also talked about how they found and why they chose their current financial advisors. Both panelists said they had once worked with brokers but that the incentives were bothersome to them and that they had eventually moved to working with an independent, fee-based advisor.
“I took a lot of time finding my advisor,” said one. “I wasn’t happy with my dad’s financial advisor, who due to the sale of our family business gifted a significant amount of money to me when I was only 25 years old. I interviewed 4-5 individuals, and while knowledge, experience and references were important, I needed someone I could talk to. My dad’s advisor was talking down to me; it was not a respectful relationship.”
On the topic of women in the workplace and women as entrepreneurs, on of the consumer panelists said, “For women to get ahead, we have to help each other.”
WOMEN WINNING IN BUSINESS
Author, professional speaker and sports agent Molly Fletcher, labeled the female “Jerry McGuire” by CNN, echoed many of the sentiments shared by the consumer panel during her speech, “Women Winning in Business.” She emphasized that the women in the room were in the relationship business and encouraged them to add so much value that their clients would enthusiastically refer them, let alone ever think of leaving them.
“Do your clients feel like they owe you or do you feel like you owe them? The goal is this: How could they possibly leave you after all you have given and given and given? Another tip: before people officially sign on with you, show them what is it is like to work with you. Have a sense of fearless urgency. Be intentional about how quickly or slowly you respond to things. We are all cognizant of the messages we send to clients – we tend to execute around things that make us money or don’t make us money. Show that sense of urgency around the work you do for your clients,” Fletcher said.
By the way, Fletcher said that not enough women advisors pitch her on becoming a resource for her professional athlete and celebrity clients. In the middle of that pregnant moment, a Securities America advisor stood up and quickly walked to the front of the room. Holding out her business card, she said, “Hello. I’m Amy Lipsitz. I’m an independent financial advisor. We work with athletes, affluent individuals and business owners at my firm. I’d love to be a resource for you and your clients. Can we have a quick side conversation when you’re done here?” The room erupted into laughter and applause. Fletcher gave Lipsitz a high-five.
PROVIDING A FEMALE-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT
During the “Women of the Ages Panel” moderated by Janine Wertheim, chief marketing officer of Securities America, advisors from Triad, Investacorp and Securities America, each representing a decade of life, shared their life and work experiences. All emphasized that building relationships with their employees and strategic partners was as important as building relationships with their clients. All relished the benefits of being an entrepreneur and the support that they received from their respective broker/dealer.