Paul Lofties, CEG Worldwide
Co-host, The Preeminent Financial Advisor podcast

Cathy McBreen, CEG Insights
Co-host, The Preeminent Financial Advisor podcast

Key Takeaways:
• Men and women largely agree on what makes a successful life—but some key differences exist.

• You need to understand your clients on a deeper level than just their assets.

• Work together with both people in a partnership to provide the leadership clients expect.

We all know that success in life often means different things to different people. Some of your clients may say they’ll feel successful when their net worth hits a certain level, while others will measure their success by whether they’re able to pursue specific goals without worrying about their financial health.

One of the many factors that can play a role in how clients define a meaningful, successful life is gender. Men and women think in different ways, which in turn can take them down divergent paths toward their specific success destinations.

This has important implications for you as an advisor—particularly if you work with mixed-gender couples (as most advisors do), who may be on different pages when it comes to their respective visions of a great life. By helping clients get clear on what they want and value, and discovering for yourself the multiple ways your clients might see success, you can potentially generate significant organic growth by helping them achieve their uniquely personal goals.

Face The Facts
Certainly, men’s and women’s opinions about success are aligned in many key areas. For example, when CEG Insights asked affluent individuals to define personal success, the top three definitions saw plenty of agreement:

1. Having close and meaningful relationships with family and friends—cited by 61% of women and 56% of men

2. Living a healthy, active lifestyle—cited by 42.4% of women and 41.4% of men

3. Having financial security and stability—cited by 34.4% of women and 30% of men

Clearly there’s some common ground here. What’s most interesting here is that two of those top three definitions of success are non-financial in nature. Both men and women are largely focusing on aspects of a meaningful life that go beyond their bottom lines.

That said, some interesting differences do exist. For example:

• Nearly 28% of women said success involves “finding inner peace, happiness and contentment”—but just 19.4% of men agreed.

• 21.2% of men said “having a successful marriage” helps define happiness, while just 14.6% of women said it does.


What’s more, there’s an area where we see an even more fundamental difference between men and women: decision making. A full 73% of men think they are the primary decision-maker in their household. And yet, 42% of women say that decision-making is shared between the two partners.

Somebody is wrong there—but do you know who it is?

Insights Into Action
The types of gender dynamics that our research shines a light on have important implications for you as an advisor. Two big conclusions of the research are:

1. Know your clients beyond their numbers and financial goals. Do a deep discovery with clients so you understand their values and what they believe “living their best life” really looks like to them. Your clients want leadership—and if you can offer them guidance that helps them live healthier lives or take care of the people they care about most, they’re likely to reward you with their loyalty and additional assets. That might mean positioning their finances so they can handle a life-threatening diagnosis or the effects of aging, or it could entail getting their estate plan in shape to help out their grandchildren.

2. Work in partnership with both members of a male-female couple. The data shows that there’s clearly some room for improvement in terms of couples’ communication about decision-making. What’s more, women generally have longer life expectancies than men—meaning there’s a good chance that a wife will eventually have to deal with financial decisions on her own, potentially for many years. Ideally, she’ll look to you for help.

To help ensure that, proactively reach out to both partners in a couple—for example, by including the husband and wife in discovery meetings, email correspondence and phone calls. Educate both partners about financial concepts, investment strategies and long-term planning. Provide resources that cater to different learning styles and encourage active participation by both individuals. And have joint meetings with both partners to review financial plans, investment portfolios, and any changes or updates—actively engaging both partners in the discussion at all steps.

Ultimately, understanding the ways in which your clients differ—and are similar—in terms of their gender-based opinions, preferences and needs can help you become a much better advisor and provide the type of value and leadership that today’s affluent clients (men and women) want.

Listen to the full episode here.

Catherine McBreen and Paul Lofties are leading innovators in wealth management research.