Women are amassing a vast amount of personal wealth and the trend shows no signs of letting up, according to an executive at RBC Wealth Management.

“The opportunity is here. Women are economic powerhouse,” said Angie O’Leary, head of wealth management at RBC, during a presentation at Financial Advisor's Invest in Women conference last week in West Plam Beach, Fla

During the session, she cited research including from the Bank of America Wealth Institute that found that women control 51% of wealth and that is expected to rise to 66% in the next decade. She also noted that female breadwinners are on the rise, citing Pew Research data showing that in nearly one-third of marriages (29%), both spouses earn the same amount of money, and the share of opposite-sex marriages where the wife is the primary breadwinner has risen to 16% from 5% in 1972 to 2022.

Further, McKinsey & Company found women are poised to become the biggest beneficiaries of the great wealth transfer from baby boomers over the next three to five years, representing $30 trillion that will be handed down to them by the end of the decade.

O’Leary said advisors should be focusing on the kids, especially the women, of the boomer clients that they are managing. “This is a great opportunity to go to that [next generation] and spend time with them,” she said. “They will appreciate it forever.”

RBC did a study on 1,000 wealthy millennials and found that they are a lot like their parents, she said, with 84% thinking about their finances a lot and three in four wanting the same things as their parents. Further, she said 91% trust their advisors. “They want a person in their lives,” she said.

The study, she said, also revealed that once millennials save for retirement, buy their first home, and pay off their debt, they have no idea what to do with that next windfall. “They get $1 million or a half million and they have no idea what to do with that. And this is where you have the inflection point of financial advisors coming in the lives of these high-net-worth millennials,” she said.

O'Leary and Cathy Walker, a senior manager at RBC, offered these six strategies for working with and retaining wealthy women: 

• Know thyself
O’Leary said it’s important to get women to talk about their feelings about money. Understanding their “money script” or their money personality is a great way to get them to talk about money, she said. “We don’t talk about money so one of the things we need to do is to get women more confident and have money conversations,” O’Leary said. 

• Building a wealth plan
Create a financial roadmap for clients that will give them confidence, O’Leary said. “If you can do that with your younger clients and all  the way to the end of their plan, then they are going to be a lot more confident in their financials."

• Understanding financial fundamentals
Encourage women to think comprehensively about their finances and identify steps they can take to build more confidence, she said. O’Leary said the plan needs to include insurance, estate planning and wealth transfer plans. 

• Aligning investments with values
Women want to know how they can support the organizations that they feel comfortable and confident in, and they also want to help teach the next generation how to do this investment and how to provide for the local community, said Walker. She cited a 2022 study from RBC that found that 72% of women wanted to increase ESG investments and 83% wanted ESG information from their advisors. Advisors, Walker said, will want to talk to clients about ESG and what it means to them. “And not just grandma, but the daughters and the granddaughters as  well, she said. “You are going to find that your clients definitely want to have the conversation with you, and they are looking for guidance.”

• Building a legacy by giving back
Philanthropy is also a growing area among clients, Walker said. She noted that the industry has more than one million individual donor-advised funds for clients and 1,500 donor-advice client programs for junior clients to invest in. “Why? Because philanthropy is incredibly important to these clients,” she said. “They all want to help the community and also to make a difference.”

• Create a retirement paycheck
Confidence and clarity come with a plan for reliable retirement income, O'Leary said. Ensure that you have a personal income plan for them and that they understand the tax repercussion of that plan and the strategies to help. Also, the plan needs to be updated annually, O’Leary said.