The way men and women view themselves and their future greatly impacts their financial planning paths. There are four major factors that influence this: mindset, marital status, age and financial services background knowledge. Marital status is a key factor in their differences, which in turn affects their mindset. Lastly, where men and women believe they are in their life, depending on their age and expectations, is a huge catalyst for moving forward in their financial journey.
Here are a few illustrations all taken from real life examples during my practice as a financial advisor in Omaha:
Mindset: Marriage may or may not be in my future
Ages: All Apply
Men usually come to me with a back story. They may say, “I lost money in 2008 doing it on my own, I don’t want to be there again, I need your help.” Others may say, “I’ve been investing on my own and I’ve gotten too busy, I am looking for someone to handle the portfolio.” They may add, “I still want to trade on my own partially.” Men’s background may sometimes be as simple as a term insurance or cash value policy they purchased from their buddy back in college.
In my experience, most men have already talked to a financial advisor or someone within financial services by the time I meet with them. They are more familiar with the wealth management profession and are either not very intimidated by the topics or pretend not to be.
Men want to increase their wealth, so they talk about returns and may want to dig into investment strategies. As far as planning goes, they want to save on taxes and are less focused on Wills and beneficiaries. More men than women will list their “estate as a beneficiary”; in fact I’ve never seen a woman list their estate as a beneficiary, not once, granted my sample size is relative to my experience.
Mindset: Marriage is in their future, or they just ended one
Ages: All Apply
For women, our first conversation may be the first time they have ever spoken with a financial advisor on their own, besides setting up their 401(k) or retirement plan at work. Women will usually have more questions; they will also have more answers. Women come in with paperwork, they will more likely come from referral sources, and they will have done their homework!
The key difference here is young women who come to me are either interested in a career in finance, or have left a marriage. I wanted to write all women that come to me are independent #selfmade, etc. when they are single, but I can’t, it just hasn’t been my experience. Which is why if you read my blog My Husband Handles the Finances, you know I’m super passionate about changing this mindset.
All women come to me seeking comfort, seeking certainty. Women want to know what’s at the end of the tunnel. They want to know how to get to six million, they want a savings schedule and they want to learn how to stick to it; they want structure. They may want to learn how to set up a side business. When women seek me out they are truly looking for their most trusted advisor, but they are also less likely to move forward quickly, women take their time.
Married Men and Women or Committed Couples
Mindset: We are together and we have a family or may have one in the future
Ages: All Apply
As a female financial advisor, I think I get a completely different perspective with my clients vs. a male financial advisor. I’ve found that most couples I meet with have spouses who want the other to at least be aware of the information I provide. The committed men and women who become my clients are comfortable with speaking to a female advisor. Although I do see the occasional gender role, I find the couples I work with have a decent balance between them when it comes to who handles the financial matters at home.
No matter who takes the role of handling the finances, I like to place a scenario to my clients:
“Pretend your spouse isn’t there. Can you be sure your financial household would stay on track?”
If either of them says no, then I suggest they switch off who handles the finances for one quarter.
More often than not, men talk about investments and women talk about planning. This is not only in one-in-one meetings, this is also in seminars or in small groups. Men ask me what I think about a stock, women ask me about Wills or financing for a home. Men want to make sure their family is taken care of, women may want to make sure their kids go to college.
Women, and I mean even women who are in finance themselves, don’t tend to use as much jargon, they tend to speak more clearly and when they say they understand they usually do. Men don’t express their clarity as much. Women let you know they understood. I have had women clients, say “no one has ever explained it to us this way. Thank you for taking the time to help me learn.” Or “I like you because you don’t talk down to me.” Women always let you know what they are thinking good or bad. Men do as well, but less often.
In conclusion, the conversation is different between men and women, and there are some generalizations that can be made when creating financial tips for either gender.
All men or all women don’t behave the same, though, and the best wealth management firms will have advisors who read their clients and understand how to customize their approach based on their demographics- not have a one size fits all strategy.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Writing this blog made me wonder, I’d love your thoughts and experiences with the following:
- What is the correlation between couples who work with a female financial advisor and the women handling the finances of these households?
- When you think of a financial advisor, does a picture of an older white gentleman pop into your head?
- When I read studies that state most men handle the finances at home, I think I probably see more women handing the finances at home than men. Is my experience different because I am a woman?
- Am I meeting men who are more used to seeing women in finance which is why many of their wives handle the finances at home?