A Focus on Women Clients

A lot has changed over the past 30 years – the world in which our mothers and grandmothers lived is certainly not the same as the world in which our daughters and granddaughters will continue to live. And although this industry has seen some much-needed changes over these decades, we still have a lot to learn when it comes to our women clients and their financial needs.

It seems obvious, but there are things that make a woman client different from a man client. In response to that, your sales style, sales process, assumptions and sales strategies may be different when communicating. The truth is that the future success of your business could depend on understanding that there are indeed differences and acting accordingly.

Why are women clients important in the financial realm and the future of your business?

Women breadwinners and the $71 trillion transfer of wealth

Women are becoming more and more powerful on a professional and financial level and are becoming the decision makers that Advisors now need to recognize. In fact, “today, women are the primary breadwinners in over 31% of households in Canada. By 2028, Canadian women will control over $4 trillion in assets, almost doubling the $2.2 trillion they control today (1).”

Up to 80% of women find a new Advisor after the death of a spouse

Did you know that up to 80% of women find a new Advisor after the death of a spouse? It’s true! “An estimated 80% of women leave their Advisor within 18 months of becoming a widow. Often, this is because they don’t feel the Advisor has taken the time to build a relationship with them (2).” The truth is that women clients aren’t worried about where their Advisor is on the gender spectrum. What they’re seeking is an Advisor who recognizes that they are also an individual, even if they are part of a committed couple. They’re looking for an Advisor who works with them in a supportive, collaborative, and holistic way, as well as one who can notice and adapt to the nuances of working alongside a woman client.

Women are really great clients!

Once you earn their trust and add solid value, women are more likely than men to seek out the advice of their trusted Advisor for ALL their financial needs, which opens a broad spectrum of opportunity for you. Once they have decided you are a good fit, women clients are less likely to leave you than men clients, with some sources indicating that women clients are even more willing to refer you to their friends and family (3).

What can you do to support your women prospects and clients?

See, hear and advocate for a woman client

It sounds basic, but do you require that both heads of the household attend a planning meeting? Financial decisions impact the futures of both, so be sure to advocate for your women clients to ensure they can participate in a meaningful way. Building this relationship will benefit your practice in the future and, for your women clients, if you are their Advisor (and not just their partners’ Advisor) it will ease the financial planning transition caused by a future marital breakdown, the incapacity or death of their spouses. Become their Advisor.

Women have a longer life expectancy

On average, Canadian women live longer than Canadian men by approximately 3.5 years (84.74 vs 81.15), and many are living past age 90 (4). As you project into the future to determine income needs in retirement, ensure these extra years are covered for your women clients. Also, consider longevity when working with an older client who has requested term insurance. PPI offers this handy Life Expectancy Chart to assist you in conversations about life expectancy and longevity.

With increased longevity also comes an increased likelihood of needing additional insurance; a good CI plan that covers cancer and other illnesses could be extremely valuable in later years when retirement funds might be starting to run low.

Women, child rearing, and elder care

While numbers might be edging upwards for men who become the stay-at-home parent, women are still four times more likely to take on this role (5). Women are also far more likely to reduce work hours, take time off or leave work to care for aging parents. In fact, adult daughters provide twice as many elder-care hours to aging parents as adult sons (6). These breaks in employment have a serious impact on the financial future of a woman.

According to one 2018 study, “stay-at-home parents are half as likely to get a job interview than parents who have been laid off. […] And the mothers who do find a job are often penalized for their time away. […] [W]omen who spend three years or more out of the workforce lose 37% of their earning power. [And] study after study has shown that even the women who do successfully re-enter the workforce after a career break never fully catch up to their earnings potential (7).”

As an Advisor, it is your responsibility to look through the financial risk mitigation lens of a woman who is a single income earner, who divorces down the line or whose partner dies or becomes unable to earn an income. Speaking to all parties and walking through a thorough needs analysis is imperative – your woman client’s entire future financial security could depend on it. In cases where the partners are the primary breadwinner, women clients may never be able to jump back into a career and regain their earning power, so it’s critical for the breadwinners to have the correct amount of life insurance and disability insurance. Income replacement must be adequate not only for expenses while rearing children, it should also help provide enough to save for retirement.

If you are meeting with a couple where one member is the stay-at-home parent/caregiver, make sure you ask them to describe the tasks they undertake daily and then help them both come to an understanding of the financial impact of the caregiver’s premature death or disability. There is significant financial value in what both partners do.

Single-income households

For single income households, financial responsibilities rest on their shoulders alone, hence your advice should look different than for a two-income couple.

For a single person, mortgage insurance may or may not be a high priority, whereas DI and/or CI coverage, and a solid retirement plan, may be higher on the list of priorities, because their bills rest squarely on their individual shoulders.

Be the change

Of course, we’re only just scratching the surface of what you can do as an Advisor to help your women clients with their holistic planning. There is huge potential in the women’s market. Today there is a huge number of women clients looking for an Advisor who understands them – can you be that Advisor?

If you’d like to learn more about opportunities within the women’s market, see this Planning Opportunities in the Women’s Market video. And if you have any questions or would like to know more, contact your local PPI Collaboration Centre.

  1. Sun Life Global Investments. Where are the women advisors? Why gender equity builds stronger advisory teams Advisor.ca. March 2023.
  2. Advisor’s Edge. Why it’s important to connect with female clients. Advisor’s Edge. March 8, 2018.
  3. The Voice of the Investor. Why Women Use Financial Advisors More Than Men. SpectrumGroup. February 16, 2021.
  4. Wordometer. Life Expectancy of the World Population. Worldmeter. March, 2022.
  5. Honderich, Holly. Why ‘stay-at-home parent’ is a job title. BBC. April 14, 2021.
  6. Almazora, Leo. How the gender pay gap adds up over women’s lifetimes. Wealth Professional. May 16, 2018.
  7. IBID.

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