Benjamin Khor of iMoney.my may have alluded to the fact that, “men are from Mars and women from Venus” when it comes to what the new generation of investors wants from their financial professionals. No longer is the “Wolf of Wall Street” the martian you want to handle your future.
The new hypothesis of investing is that Millennials can go it alone if they want just to invest. They can indulge in robo investing, using their smartphone; however, if they want advice, they want advice from someone who cares… really cares about them and their future. They may also want information from someone who can relate to them and their needs; someone who looks like them.
In Your Face Realities
According to Catalyst, finance is still a massively male-dominated profession; women in the United States only comprise 39.2% of managerial positions. There are the old lingering clichés that indicate that women are more unsure of their knowledge and therefore more risk-averse than men. In my personal experience, I have found that women want to make sure that the money is there when they need it in the future and are less concerned about betting-the-farm by investing in the next hot deal.
Women seem to have lower self-confidence than men when it comes to their financial knowledge, but the real numbers, even in the midst of the economic crisis, show a different story. An articleby Benjamin Khor of iMoney.my, cited “a study conducted by the German Comdirect Bank and the DAB reveal[ing] that lower confidence in women does not translate to poorer investment choices and management.”
A Forbes article by Brian Bloch of Investopedia also referenced the German Comdirect Bank study, showing “… 58% of men rated their financial understanding as good or very good, but only 47% of women. Furthermore, a large sample of almost half a million private portfolios demonstrates that in 2007 and the crisis year of 2008, women did 4 to 6% better than men.”
Shed Your Pink Collar
The old paradigm in my day was that women were supposed to take support positions, much like the roles they played in the household. They could “nurture” people by being nurses, teachers, secretaries, housewives; women must be the “wind beneath the wings” of men who were doing the “important” jobs. That paradigm is changing. According to the Journal of Medical Regulation, “Females now make up one-third of all licensed physicians…” In law careers, the American Bar Association reports that women make up “36.0%” of the entire legal profession.
Not All Is Rosy
Gender pay gap is still plaguing women. According to Fortune, “Personal finance advisors who are women tend to make only 58% of what men in the industry make.” Take heart. When I joined the industry in 1972, not only was my salary lowered to $6,500 a year while my male colleagues were making $11,000 a year, but in total, women were paid about 60 cents for every dollar their male counterparts were earning. We are getting there, but not fast enough.
A Woman’s New Dance: The Side Hustle
Jobs in the financial world are becoming more flexible and interconnected, which is perfect for the mompreneur who wants to raise a family and have a meaningful career, all while tapping into her existing skill-base. Employers understand that their professionals must reflect their customers. Peer-to-peer learning is also essential in this new professional landscape.
I spoke with Kimmie Greene from QuickBooks, who is a working mom. She said: “Whether business or personal, financial advice is typically shared in a teacher-student model, with one declared expert imparting their wisdom in a largely unemotional way – here are the facts, do as I say. QuickBooks, recently hosted its annual conference of more than 5,000 accountants, small businesses and the self-employed. Now more than ever, customers are reaching out, eager to connect with other customers, so they can learn from each other as peers.
Today’s successful companies require a workforce that looks and feels a lot like their customers, including early career talent, part-time workers, working moms, and entrepreneurs. We need to understand the customers’ challenges first-hand and share similar values – it can’t be lip service.”
Sophisticated financial firms are cracking the code concerning onboarding women who have the nurturing skills to better the firm’s position, in all ways. Nurturing is a benefit, not a deterrent to success. With regard to your financial future, the reality is that, if you do have money to invest or to buy insurance, why wouldn’t you want to seek advice from a professional who is used to nurturing? That is precisely what is happening.
Edward Jones, a financial services firm with over a trillion dollars of assets under management, is proactively responding to this new landscape. During a conversation with Monica Giuseffi, Principal in Inclusion and Diversity for Edward Jones, she told me, “An important component of our efforts is to recruit women financial advisors. We have a program called WHOW (Women Helping Other Women). WHOW brings a network of successful female financial advisors, external product partners, and home office associates together to share business building ideas and best practices. Sensitivity to our customer’s needs is essential to helping them to build their financial futures. We can teach our employees the technical skills, but it’s a lot harder to teach skills that assure a meaningful, long-term relationship. These include great listening skills, showing empathy and having an attention to details.”
Daisaku Ikeda, the Buddhist philosopher and educator, may have summarized why women are so adept at the financial advisor role. “As givers and nurturers of life, through their focus on human relationships and their engagement with the demanding work of raising children and protecting family life, they develop a deep sense of empathy that cuts through to underlying human realities.”