You have a general feeling about how your clients feel about you, but it is possible to know for sure exactly where you stand in their minds. Survey them. When our clients execute F2 Strategy’s Voice of the Client survey, they begin to understand how their clients feel about their relationships, their services and much more. We identify areas where advisors are exceeding expectations and help them shore up areas where they aren’t. A side benefit of this work is that we’re finding industry trends emerging from these various surveys.
One big trend is a perplexing result that many advisors face; a gap between these two questions:
- How likely are you to refer?
- Have you already?
We expect some difference; however, the gap between these answers is wider for women than it is for men, meaning women more often express willingness to refer their advisors based on their satisfaction with their relationships, but actually do it less often than men. It’s good to know this, because it gives advisors an important opportunity to increase referrals from female clients who have already expressed their willingness to refer.
Increasing referrals from female clients is really essential for bottom line growth. We are in the midst of a societal trend where women increasingly take on more control of their wealth and show more interest in investing decisions. But, the approach to increasing referrals needs to be different than one advisors might take with male clients, because most women need more confidence around wealth and investing. Bridging that confidence gap is huge. Advisors should provide their female clients with the information they need and give them the right opportunities to ask questions so that they are comfortable in taking the steps to invest with confidence.
Ways to Close the Gender Referral Gap
There are a number of steps advisors can take to gain referrals from female clients.
First, build a community of women with the purpose of normalizing the money conversation and inspiring and encouraging them to be interested in their finances. These sessions can help increase female client knowledge of investing in general and help them gain confidence in their ability to invest. Sessions can also expose them to investment opportunities that resonate with them. For example, gender lens investing, which shows that investing with intent can help improve women's lives.
Use this community to hold networking and education sessions with female clients and ask them to invite their friends to deepen relationships and develop new ones. In addition, focus on retention and build female friendly communities within your multigenerational families. For example, offer to bring in the matriarch and her daughters or daughters-in-law to address financial topics such as a budgeting session just before going to college or to discuss merging finances for newlyweds.
Second, build a business that caters to women’s unique life experiences. Examine your algorithms to ensure they account for career breaks, pay gaps and cuts, longer lifespans and stay at home roles. Address women’s conservative approach to investing, which usually involves keeping a good portion of their assets as cash or cash equivalents and hesitancy around investing in stocks, with education on opportunity cost, cash drag, and what their ideal cash position should be to meet short and long term goals. Think about how to engage with partners who don’t want a role in investing (you never know when they will find themselves needing to take it on).
Third, examine the makeup of your company. Evaluate who is in leadership positions and on advisory teams. You need female voices in leadership and within the advisory teams to help increase relatability with female clients. This female perspective will shed light on the financial challenges that women specifically face. It will also highlight how women approach money and investing differently than men do and define different ways to serve them.
Finally, segment your target audiences and develop female-focused marketing and communications. You can create a distribution vehicle such as an e-newsletter, podcast, or annual report that focuses on female friendly themes. These communications tools should be easy for clients to share with their friends. Beyond creating the content and messaging, explore out of the box sponsorships and advertising opportunities. Sponsor a non-finance themed podcast that women like or advertise on social media platforms such as Instagram.
Remember, women who are happy with their advisor relationships are more willing to refer than men...if they feel comfortable. Advisors can build the support structure that provides that comfort and brings down the anxiety of talking about money with friends. When we give them tools they can share, or education they want to pass along and discuss, we make it easy for them to deliver high quality leads that grow our businesses.
Gain insight on your clients’ referral rates through our Voice of the Client survey. Get in touch to get started understanding where you stand in their minds.