Which financial products and services they use now and want later.

Editor's Note: This is the last of three articles based on a recent survey of 743 women with at least $3 million in investable assets that have examined 1) who they are, 2) what they look for in financial advisors, and, in this installment, 3) which financial products and services they're interested in.

For those financial advisors hoping to work with wealthy women, the key information is not which products and services they use today-as revealing as that may be-but which ones they want to use down the road. And, based on our survey, the answers are private equity investment, funds of funds, planned giving and tax management.

Over the course of the last two columns, we've taken a close look at a market for financial advisors that the profession is still trying to zero in on: women of wealth. In a world where both clients and their financial advisors have been predominantly male, financial services firms are belatedly turning their attention to women who have long since caught up in terms of earning power and assets.

To better understand this important segment, we conducted a survey of 743 women who had at least $3 million in investable assets, excluding business and real property interests that couldn't be easily converted into cash. Each of them had an average of $6.5 million in assets-as a group they had $4.85 billion-and each was the primary decision-maker when it came to how those assets were managed.

Who They Are

In our first article, we showed just how potent a force female investors are. Besides accounting for more than half of America's population and workforce, 43% of Americans with better than $500,000 in assets are women, according to Merrill Lynch. They also are an increasingly powerful force in business. In fact, 26% of all U.S. companies are now owned or run by women, and there are an estimated 100,000 women-owned businesses with $1 million or more in annual revenues.

Of the women in our study, 61.5% of the respondents were from 45 to 54 years old and 61% had at least a college degree. Regarding their wealth, 31.4% owned a business or operated a family business, 24.8% inherited their money, and 21.9% became wealthy through their jobs. Over two-thirds, 76.4%, said they didn't want to be dependent on anyone else for financial advice, but 79% also said they valued professional help and relied on experts for financial guidance.

Women And Advisors

When we turned our attention to what women expected of their financial advisors, the top two answers illustrated some of the key differences between what a male and female client might look for. Both answers-values (66.9%) and listening skills (62.4%)-underscored the importance of a well-defined interpersonal relationship over high-end technical skills and investment expertise. And more than half of the respondents emphasized the importance of having an advisor who could help solve problems as they came up; they want someone with the ability to think on their feet and the resources to proactively respond to changing financial needs and circumstances.

A majority (61.4%) said they would move their assets to stay with a trusted financial advisor, yet 98.8% had changed financial advisors at least once. The number one reason they left? Because their advisor didn't understand their objectives (72.8%).

Products And Services

With that background in hand, we can now turn to the financial products and services that wealthy women are using now, as well as those that they're interested in. As noted, the products and services they want to know more about are perhaps more relevant to financial advisors than the ones they're already using, because they'll help to shape the sales pitch that those advisors would employ in winning these women as clients.

When it comes to investment management options, the respondents used two products and services to the virtual exclusion of all others: private money managers and mutual funds (Exhibit 1).

The presence of money managers, in particular, doesn't mean there's no opening for financial advisors, especially wealth managers who have access to a wide range of products and services. Indeed, wealth managers, with their highly consultative approach, broad menu of offerings and support team of specialists, are ideally suited to working with women of wealth.