Seven hundred billion dollars.

That’s the estimated business that advisors and the financial services industry lose by failing to understand and meet women’s needs, according to a report from Oliver Wyman, a global management consulting firm.

The financial services industry is missing out on at least that much in revenue each year by not serving women customers, who globally control 40% of wealth and are responsible for two-thirds of all household spending, according to the report, “Women in Financial Services 2020.”

"Women are the single largest underserved group of customers in financial services," the report’s authors found. "Evidence shows that approaches that may appear to be gender-neutral in fact default toward men's needs and preferences."

That’s also true for traditional wealth-planning strategies, which assume a client’s income will steadily increase over the years. That increase is less common for women, who take more career breaks for caregiving than men, the report found.

Add to this the fact that women tend to retire earlier, live longer and have higher medical expenses—and it becomes clear that the standard retirement planning needs to be overhauled to reflect women’s greater need for flexibility.

A one-size-fits-all or gender-biased approach has created "unintentional blind spots in how the industry meets the needs of half the population," the authors said.

“The product you are selling to men is probably a good product for them. But the product you design for women is going to work better for everybody. Unfortunately, it does not work the other way around,” said Mary Ellen Iskenderian, president and CEO of the New York-based Women’s World Banking. This network owns a private equity fund that makes direct equity investments in women-focused financial institutions.

What if the wealth and asset management industry did a better job meeting women’s needs?

The result in the first year alone would be a whopping $25 billion in new wealth and asset manager fees, obtained from moving money held in deposits into AUM, the report found. “This uplift would be compounded in the years to come as women’s wealth grew.”

If insurers sold life insurance to women at the same proportion of income as they sell to men, the result would be roughly $500 billion in new premiums from new customers and higher premiums per customer, even after accounting for differences in income.

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