Maybe the ideas in the book Men Are from Mars, Women Are From Venus might also apply to the difference in communicating effectively with female vs. male clients.
The male-dominated financial services industry may have developed a reputation for not understanding their female clients' needs as well as they understand those of male clients. That could be because many advisors speak to women in a way that sounds like, well, Martian.
That's the premise of a trio of women financial experts who say women are wired differently than men when it comes to communicating, researching and approaching a financial issue or decision. Entitled "Sex, Lies and Stereotypes," the workshop session was held today at the 2012 Investment Management Consultant Association (IMCA) conference in National Harbor, Md.
"Men and women think differently," said Kathleen Burns Kingsbury of KBK Wealth Connection. "Men are analytical; women do more grazing, talking with female friends, doing their own research and networking. Women are more hardwired for relationships -- for connecting, developing friendships and socializing."
That gender difference, says Kingsbury, extends to how women interact with a financial advisor and what the best way is for an advisor to converse with a female client. "It's nobody's fault," Kingsbury said. "The financial industry was initially determined by men."
A good approach with women, says Kingsbury, is for a financial advisor to be a listener first and a talker second. "A good listener will say, 'I know you're going through a tough financial time -- tell me about it,'" she said.
The goal of applying a more personal approach with women clients, says Kingsbury, should be to cultivate a sense of trust. Advisors also need to convey reliability, understandability, strength and thoughtfulness to female clients, she says.
"You need to be understandable -- get rid of the financial jargon," Kingsbury said. "You need to be sensitive to your clients needs, and you also have to project strength and thoughtfulness for your client to believe you and trust you."
Janet Achetel, an advisor for the financial firm Wealth By Design For Women, says women clients also have special financial issues that men may not. "Women usually live longer than their spouse," she said. "It's challenging because they now have to do it on their own."