Financial advisors wishing to brand their practice as female friendly would do well to remember the famous marketing debacle of the 90’s when the ski industry wanted to reach out to women. Instead of talking to them or doing market research, they simply changed the colour of their ski boots to pink and to add insult to injury the boots only came in beginner models. Needless to say their effort backfired spectacularly.
The lesson? “Pinking it” simply isn’t enough. You have to do the homework if you want to get it right! If you’ve recognized that women are the key to the growth of your business you are already ahead of the curve. Branding your practice as female friendly is well worth it – if you do it right.
Start by talking to women
Before you do anything – talk to women, get their perspective on what they want from a financial advisor. You don’t have to talk to thousands and they don’t even all have to use advisors, talk to anyone: friends, family, clients, non-clients who use other advisors – reach out to all the women in your network.
You may be pleasantly surprised that just by reaching out and listening, you will start to create awareness for your practice. Women who you talk to will know you are making a genuine effort to understand their needs and there is a good chance they will tell others.
Think about inviting a group of women to lunch. Make it clear that you are there to listen to their views – then be sure to listen. Resist the temptation to talk about yourself or turn it into a sales opportunity.
You will probably notice that women like to connect on a personal level so create an atmosphere where they can talk comfortably.
Three easy steps to achieve a female friendly environment
- Create meeting rooms that encourage conversation, and furnish them with comfy chairs and sofas
- Replace corporate photos (of men in suites or at golf tournament) with artwork or family/vacation photos
- If you have a coffee room, turn it into a space that supports casual conversation
Remember, women are not comfortable with the competitive male paradigm. Your premises should be comfortable, clean, well thought out but not too slick – having the latest, greatest everything screams “look at how successful I am!”
This is important because women are quickly turned off if they suspect you are being disingenuous.
- Articulate why your practice focuses on the needs of women in particular. This had better be honest. Use a story about your own family or a situation that motivated you. Maybe when your father died, you realized how little your mother was prepared to take over the investments.
- Demonstrate that you understand her issues by framing your conversation / advice in ways that connect with her life.
- Provide insights that no one else has. The initial interviews you did can come in handy here.
If you’ve attracted some women to your practice, don’t stop; double down to really solidify your position. Continue to reach out to them on a regular basis. Women by nature tend to be good organizers, so if you don’t follow through on something or you aren’t accountable to them, you will lose credibility and trust.
Take Away: You can achieve remarkable growth by branding your practice as female friendly if you do it right, are sincere and follow through, it is time well spent.