In honor of International Woman’s Day 2020 on March 8th, we would like to celebrate the women of wealth management.
Women make great advisors. They inherently have certain natural qualities and characteristics that perfectly align with the profession of financial planning. Prospects who seek out and hire a financial planner are looking for certain features in the person they engage. Beyond results and ethical behavior, they want to be heard and understood. They want to understand their finances and not have their advisor talk over their heads. They want to be assured that their advisor acts in their best interest. They want a relationship rather than feeling like a number in a system.
A June 2015 article posted by Rick Kahler on Time Inc. titled, “Four Qualities a Financial Advisor Ought to Have” highlighted a 2014 study by the Financial Planning Association’s Research and Practice Institute. This study determined that nearly 90% of clients want their financial advisor to be a strong leader. While this claim alone was not surprising, the client description of “leadership” took on new meaning – a meaning that we think demonstrates why women make great financial advisors.
Clients from this study reported that good leaders (i.e. their advisors) should have four dominant qualities: expertise, skill as a guide, deep understanding, and vulnerability. When it comes to expertise, women and men who are successful as advisors share in making their expertise a priority. Let’s look further into the other three qualities to see specifically how women embody them.
Skills as a Guide
In many ways, guides keep people safe. They know where the dangers lurk, and they are informed on how to handle and cope with uncertainties. They are trained to stay calm in anxious situations and to provide a sense of comfort to those relying on their skills. When considering the volatility of the market and all the factors not within the control of financial advisors, their ability to stay calm while guiding clients becomes highly important.
Women have an advantage when dealing with stress because of three hormones: cortisol, epinephrine and oxytocin. Cortisol and epinephrine are primarily triggered to raise our blood pressure. Oxytocin is triggered to soften the reaction produced by cortisol and epinephrine. Men typically produce less oxytocin than women, giving them a stronger reaction to cortisol and epinephrine. The estrogen hormone in women also increases their drive to protect others, especially their relationships. Men, on the other hand, tend to be more invested in performance and competition.
Women advisors simply go deeper with their clients than most men do. Many of the qualities that are embedded in the meaning of “deep understanding” are words that women use to describe themselves, their skills, and other female advisors. Words such as listening, empathy, openness, collaboration, heart, compassion, curiosity, intuition, communication, creativity, authenticity, and relationship building.
Studies have also shown that men are often not as tuned into social cues as well as women. For example, evidence shows that women can pick up six different facial cues whereas men pick up one in similar circumstances. Women have a way of hearing what’s not being said by their clients and are more willing to pursue those intuitions and tune into those cues.
Feeling vulnerable is generally uncomfortable, and for some, being vulnerable in front of clients can be incredibly uncomfortable. Sometimes there’s a sense that allowing yourself to appear vulnerable may cause clients to question your expertise. The successful women advisors we’ve coached and queried all agree that not being afraid to admit to your client when you don’t know something is important to building trust. Clients appreciate when you admit you’re not perfect. It makes you human. It puts you more on the client’s level and is appealing especially for those clients who find it hard to talk to their advisors for fear of feeling stupid. Being vulnerable helps you to connect with others. In our experience, it appears that women are more willing to show their vulnerability to clients than men.
When you consider these four dominant qualities that clients seek in their financial advisor – expertise, skill as a guide, deep understanding, and vulnerability – it’s obvious that women using their natural talents make excellent financial advisors. In honor of International Woman’s Day 2020, we salute all female financial advisors using their authenticity to serve their clients exceptionally well
If you’re a female financial advisor looking to grow your practice or get more done in your day, reach out to schedule a FREE 30-minute coaching call. We understand you and are here to support you and your practice, creating the awesome life you envision.