Many women struggle to find a financial advisor who understands their concerns and feels like a good match for their financial planning needs. This happens for a variety of reasons, but the truth is simple: women aren’t a homogenous group. We’re all unique individuals with specific goals, desires, dreams, and worries.
Too many advisors gear their advice toward women by offering generic platitudes without getting down to the nitty-gritty. Women want an authentic relationship with their advisor that dives deeper beyond the surface-level financial advice and small talk. They want a custom plan that supports their short and long term goals, and they don’t want to have the advisor continually address their husband or partner instead of directing questions their way.
This might seem like it’s not too much to ask, all told. Unfortunately, however, many women find discrimination in the financial planning field is still a problem they face. In my 18 years as an advisor, I have worked with clients - the majority of whom, like me, are women. I’ve heard their stories, and I’ve learned so many things from them. Prior to that, I was a client of an advisor, as a single woman. From that brief relationship I also learned quite a bit. I learned that listening was a critical skill. Empathy is also very important. And from my own experience, the ability to educate your clients is essential.
When I set out on my own to be a financial planner, I decided to pursue the fee-only business model. I chose this path for a variety of personal reasons.
Fees matter to me - and you.
First and foremost, I felt strongly that I wanted to be transparent with my clients. The idea that they might not know that my advice was always going to be in their best interest because I could potentially earn commissions or kick-backs for selling financial products was never an idea I liked. So, I decided early on that the only way I was going to do business was by getting paid by clients directly. It turns out that many women are skeptical of advisors - and reasonably so. There are a lot of salespeople out there masquerading as financial advisors, and they’re looking to sell you something and make a big commission. I’m proud that I belong to the fee-only crowd, and that my clients can know that my interests align with their financial success - always.
As a female advisor, I too-often hear my female clients express that they’ve been looking for a financial planner who is a woman for a long time. The truth is, only 16% of advisors are female (2017). This isn’t to say that male advisors miss the mark. I work with a long list of male advisors who I respect a great deal - and who do a phenomenal job working with an almost-all-female client base. However, there’s something to be said for sitting across the table from someone who has walked in your shoes when you’re talking about something as vulnerable as your money. My female clients appreciate the fact that I represent their unique concerns, and can relate.
Authenticity is key.
This is the biggest takeaway I’ve learned as a female financial advisor. It’s not even always about being a female advisor in a male-dominated field. It’s more about the authenticity in the relationships I build with my clients. Part of this, I believe, is the fact that I have taken a fiduciary oath to always make decisions that are in their best interest.
When you’re looking for an advisor, I recommend you seek someone out who prioritizes authenticity. It’s easy to see through when someone is putting on a show - and I don’t want that for you. Money is an incredibly sensitive subject. It’s tied to some of your deepest fears, hopes, and dreams. You need an advisor who is willing to be 100% authentic with you and vice versa. If you can’t build with one another on a firm foundation of trust, there’s a good chance that you won’t have the success you could have when working with a professional financial planner.
If you want to learn more about financial planning or have any questions, you can always contact me at Wood Smith Advisors. Feel free to reach out - I’d love to get to know you.
Wood Smith Advisors, a woman-owned Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), is a fee-only financial services firm that partners with its clients to simplify their financial lives. We focus on women, entrepreneurs and individuals with complex financial situations, providing objective and competent advice, education and services to help them develop and build their businesses and reach their financial goals. We can be reached by clicking here.
"Finance Made Simple" blog posts are intended for educational purposes and not for specific advice. Each person’s situation is different. Consult your financial advisor for advice relating to topics discussed.