The good news is – the conversation is changing
by Tom Halloran & Maggie DietrichMs. Dietrich is a vice president, Marketing, at Voya Financial, and chair of the Women Advisors Network, Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. Mr. Halloran is president of Voya Financial Advisors, Inc., an industry-leading wealth management organization and registered broker-dealer. Visit voya.com
Despite often taking the reins as the financial decision makers of the household, women still represent a significantly underserved group of customers in the financial services industry. When it comes to wealth management, there are also some approaches that, while appearing gender-neutral, ultimately default toward men’s needs and preferences. For example, take traditional planning strategies. Oftentimes, a financial plan will assume one’s income will steadily increase over the years, but this is less common for women, who tend to take more career breaks than men. While unintentionally creating blind spots for a significant part of the population, to rectify this, the financial services industry needs to rethink how it approaches and serves female clients.
As a financial professional, shifting an entire industry model is not meant to rest on your shoulders, but there are some important things we should all consider as we think about the different ways that each gender views personal finance.
Understand the value of your advice
While dual-earner households are on the rise, industry data shows that women still shoulder a majority of the household responsibilities.1 With so many responsibilities competing for your client’s attention, it’s important to understand that women, in particular, feel they do not have enough time to complete the necessary research to make well-informed investment decisions.
This is where your role can add value. Recent research from Voya Financial found that, given this feeling for lack of time, when it comes to seeking answers around financial advice, women are more likely to turn to those they trust (including friends, family, financial advisors, etc.). Men, on the contrary, are often more likely to spend time self-educating.2
Women are more rational investors
When it comes to investing, women tend to earn higher returns than men when they do invest,3 which is often attributed to the idea that they tend to think more rationally about investing by asking questions that will impact their decision-making, as opposed to reacting in a knee-jerk fashion to swings in the market.4
To reap the benefits of the market, individuals first must be invested in it. While no amount is ever too little, it’s crucial that, as an advisor, you are partnering with your client to help them build their investment strategy. Providing budgeting strategies that can help manage day-to-day financial responsibilities might provide your female clients with an opportunity to feel more in control and to see the impact of their actions on immediate financial goals.
Provide a confidence boost
Stereotypes, unfortunately, still permeate the financial services industry, including the outdated misperception that men are more capable investors than women. The good news is that the conversation is changing for the better. As an advisor, there’s an opportunity to reinforce your clients ability to reach their financial goals simply by providing the facts.
For one, despite men historically being more confident in investing, female investors tend to earn higher returns than men — in some cases, outperforming men by 0.94% – 1.2% per year.5 While the data shows evidence for added confidence when it comes to investing, less than half (42%) of women are comfortable with their current investment strategy, as opposed to 65% of men.6
With the current market volatility that we’re experiencing, we are also seeing women making fewer rash or emotional decisions in response to market changes. The reality is that women trust their analytical approach. Additional data from Voya has found that during this current volatile market environment, women were more likely (90%) than men (81%) to “stay the course” with their investment strategy and were less likely (18%) to make changes to their overall portfolio, including investment allocations, than men (28%).7
Make investing have more tangible goals
Aside from helping your female clients gain the confidence they need to invest, it’s also important to communicate the benefits that investing can provide, both in the short and long term. For example, data from Voya Financial’ s retirement plan participant base also shows that women earning more than $90,000 have a greater average savings rate than men who are earning the same salary (10.3% vs. 10%) — potentially leading to $516 more per year in retirement income than their male counterparts.8
In the short term, there’s also an opportunity to help attract those digitally savvy clients by sharing the ways in which they can keep an eye on their investments through digital services and mobile apps. Several companies today offer online budgeting tools to help track and manage finances, providing a simple and accessible opportunity for individuals to keep an eye on their short-term priorities.
Providing a relationship and engaging with your clients are important parts of being an advisor, regardless of their gender. But to provide the kind of counsel that can be most helpful to women, remember that, for women, finances have a strong tie to their family and home life, which means understanding your clients’ life and financial goals are even more important when it comes to helping female clients. Doing so can help create clear, personalized financial plans.
1. American Time Use Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018.
2., 4. & 6. Voya “Women and Investing” study conducted through Voya’s Online Consumer Community with 205 consumers (including: n=105 women; n=100 men) in April-May 2019.
3. Warwick Business School study surveying 2,456 investors, 450 of which were female, between April 2012 and July 2016 where women outperformed men in the study by about 1.2% per year — as shown in “Why Women Are Better At Investing,” Forbes (Dec. 2018).
5. “Why Women Are Better At Investing,” Forbes.com, Michael Cannivet (Dec. 2018).
7. Voya Financial survey conducted through Ipsos March 25-26, 2020, on the Ipsos eNation omnibus online platform among 1,000 adults aged 18+ in the U.S.
8. Voya plan participant data, total of 1.2 million Voya customers (Dec. 31, 2019).
Investment adviser representative and registered representative of, and securities and investment advisory services offered through, Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. (member SIPC).
Neither Voya® nor its affiliated companies or representatives provide tax or legal advice. Please consult a tax advisor or attorney before making a tax-related investment/insurance decision.