4 Ways to Avoid Getting Fired by Female Clients

Attracting and retaining female clients is critical for wealth-management growth, say two financial planning experts.

By Eleanor O'Sullivan

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that Rethinking65 is doing on viewpoints of industry leaders who attended the SHIFT 2024 conference.

Mary Carlson, CFP, PhD, regaled a roomful of financial professionals with the story of a wealthy woman who bemoaned having to attend meetings with her husband and their financial advisor.

“This woman and I were chatting about financial planning, and she looked at me and said, ‘I hated going to those meetings; it was the most boring, exhausting thing I’ve ever done.’

“She would be ignored. She had no voice and had no desire to be there,’’ said Carlson, a financial behavioral scientist and founder/president of Financial Behavioral Keynote Group. Carlson is also an adjunct faculty member of the financial planning program at the University of Georgia.

The woman told Carlson that as soon as her husband died, she would find another manager of her wealth, probably her lawyer.

Doing so, she would join a sizable majority of widowed or divorced women: McKinsey reported in 2020 that 70% of women with a spouse/partner fired their financial advisor after the partner’s death or a divorce.

And that, said Dr. Kristy Archuleta, translates into big money being siphoned off: 70% of human assets are controlled primarily by baby boomers, she said, and one third of that, or $10 trillion, is controlled by women. Archuleta, a professor in financial planning at University of Georgia, focuses on the development of financial therapy.

A $20 Trillion Opportunity

“Here’s what’s about to happen: by 2030, the figure that is managed by women is transferring to an additional 20 trillion. They are taking the money from the financial advisors of the husbands and they’re beginning to own it. So there is lots of transition in the marketplace,’’ Archuleta said.

Women on average outlive men by about five years, and those women who take trillions of dollars with them usually do so within one year of the man’s death.

Carlson and Archuleta spoke on “Women Making Change’’ at the recent SHIFT conference held in Orlando, Fla., organized by Advisor 2X.

They said that attracting and retaining female customers will be critical for wealth management growth.

“If you are not doing this, you will not be managing the amount of assets you manage today, in five years,’’ said Carlson.

Next Steps

So what’s a financial advisor to do? Archuleta and Carlson outlined steps that advisors can use to attract and retain women clients and the next generation:

  • Have a family conversation among grandparents, parents and children about how assets will be divided. Lawsuits and broken relationships will ensue if family members believe they are shortchanged in asset transfer.
  • Understand that women have different financial imperatives than men: Women typically use money for the wellbeing of their family. Men have higher risk tolerance and financial self-confidence than women, but not necessarily more actual knowledge.
  • Women are twice as likely than men to pay for financial advice, but they need to be empowered to make confident financial decisions and to take more risk.
  • Shut up, be quiet, be silent: Carlson and Archuleta said listening is an advisor’s most powerful tool, especially with women.

Eleanor O’Sullivan is a writer for Rethinking65.



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