When financial advisor Ryan Wibberley sat down with his team to decide what kind of clients they wanted more of, they decided they wanted more single women.
“We wanted the firm to grow, so we were asking ourselves what kind of client do we have that we want 20 more of? We decided we wanted more women clients,” says Wibberley, founder and CEO of CIC Wealth, a wealth management firm in Gaithersburg, Md., with $480 million in assets under management.
Other advisors are reaching the same conclusion. Tina Powell, founder and CEO of SheCapital in Hackensack, N.J., created her firm to cater specifically to single women, although the firm also has other clients. Launched last August, her company is both a robo-advisor and a traditional financial planner.
Larger firms such as Brown Brothers Harriman in New York City are creating separate programs for women. BBH launched the Center for Women & Wealth last year to support women and their investment goals.
CIC Wealth has been so successful at reaching single women that more than half of its clients are now women, mostly divorced, widowed or never married. All three firms agree that listening is the key to attracting women clients.
“The portfolios are not different but the conversations around the portfolios are different,” says Wibberley. “Once you gain a woman’s trust, she is more loyal than a male client. They are not always knowledgeable about investing up front. They are often fearful and lack confidence. But once you alleviate those fears through education—at the end of the day—women are better investors than men. They are not as quick to jump out of an investment if something goes down for a while.
“They also do not let their egos get in the way, the way men often do,” he adds. “They do not try to second-guess the advisor, but they still make their own decisions.”
It is important for advisors to know how to help single women because 80% of men will die married but 80% of women will die single, says Adrienne Penta, senior vice president and executive director of BBH’s Center for Women & Wealth.
“These women have no one else to rely on for their financial planning, but they have no one to undermine their decisions either,” Penta says. “Women now control 51% of the wealth in the United States, and that percentage will only grow because women are going to be the major recipients of the most massive transition in wealth in the history of the country. The financial services industry is starting to understand that single women are going to be a big part of the market in the future.”
To serve this huge part of the market, SheCapital is offering a combination of “brick and click,” Powell says. The firm is now more brick than click as more women clients want to talk to an advisor.