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Women Breadwinners Want Sound Advice, Not Sales Pitch

Sept. 15, 2015
Women Breadwinners Want Sound Advice, Not Sales Pitch
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By Michael Chamberlain, AIF, CFP

Learn more about Michael on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor

With women controlling more than half of all personal wealth in the U.S., you’d think financial advisors would be working extra hard to appeal to female clients — especially when you consider that women are more likely than men to seek help from a financial professional.

And yet, research shows many women are far from satisfied with the advice they get.

Women are the primary breadwinners in 4 in 10 American families, according to a new study from the Family Wealth Advisors Council, a network of fee-only independent advisory firms. At some point in their lives, 95% of women will be the principal financial decision maker in their home, the study found.

“Women are increasingly controlling more of the nation’s wealth, and the rise of breadwinner women is causing seismic shifts in our families, communities and our marketplace,” says Eileen O’Connor, co-author of the study.

Overall, women gave financial advisors a score of 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, according to the study. “That’s a terrible score,” says co-author and advisor Heather Ettinger.

This lack of confidence is not hard to understand. Many “financial advisors” are not really advisors at all. They’re salespeople. Their “solution” to every problem clients have is to sell them a product. Most advisors have only a license to sell investments and/or insurance. They often do not have the necessary breadth of knowledge to serve clients who want advice on a wide range of financial topics.

The old product-oriented approach simply does not work well with the majority of breadwinner women. Women are looking for practical advice and credible solutions to their problems or concerns.

As shown in an earlier study from the Family Wealth Advisors Council and other research, here are some of the most important things women want when dealing with a financial professional:

  1. A relationship built on understanding, empathy and trust.
  2. An advisor who communicates at a level and in a manner the client understands.
  3. Education and advice on a variety of topics, not just investments.
  4. Knowledge that the advisor is a fiduciary looking out for the client’s best interests.
  5. Knowledge that the advisor has developed an investment plan based on the client’s needs and goals and that it was created for the long haul.
  6. Peace of mind, knowing that she and her family are making good financial decisions.

The best bet for meeting these criteria is to select a “fee-only” advisor who is a Certified Financial Planner. A fee-only advisor doesn’t sell insurance or investments, and CFPs are likely to have training and experience in a broad array of financial arenas. To find a CFP and fee-only advisor, look to Garrett Planning Network or NAPFA.

And finally, to ensure that your advisor is placing your interests above all others, ask him or her to sign a Fiduciary Oath. If your advisor won’t sign, look elsewhere.

Image via iStock.