A Failure to Communicate What Financial Advisors say and what Female clients hear

It certainly is not news that men and women think and behave differently and while this has traditionally been a great source of material for comedian, it is no laughing matter when it comes to business.

When financial advisors “misinterpret” what their clients are saying or visa versa, it can lead to confusion and even hurt feelings – at best, but at worse it can mean a lost client.

Understanding how women think and recognizing your own insecurities and preconceptions can go a long way toward avoiding misunderstandings and developing a deeper more mutually trusting relationship with your female clients.

For example, women think of investing in terms of life goals and they are generally not as confident about their investing skills as men so when you say, “don’t worry about that,” she is likely hearing, “you’re too stupid to understand.” And when you talk about growing her wealth, she may well be thinking, “what does this have to do with my life?”

On the other hand, financial advisors, and we are talking predominantly about male advisors, hear what their female clients are saying through their own filter. So when a female client says, “I want to think about that,” he may assume it is because she doesn’t trust him, when actually it is simply a reflection on the fact that women have a tendency to be more cautious. Rather than take offense, it would serve the relationship better to say, “take all the time you need, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.”

Some common phrases you may be using and what your female client hears…

He said / She heard

You can’t get emotional about investing / You’re an airhead

You’ve got to learn to take risks / You’ll likely lose money

My expertise is helping clients grow their wealth / I don’t usually take on clients like you

I meet with clients in my office once a year / He doesn’t care about my needs

What your female clients says and – what you may hear…

She said / He heard

I’ll talk to my husband about this /He’s going to second guess what I recommend

It doesn’t feel right to me /She lets emotions drive her decisions

How much do I pay in fees? / She is likely to move her account

Take away: Be careful how you phrase things. Think about how what you are saying might be perceived. If she looks less than happy ask questions until you are sure you are both on the same page. And when she speaks, try to understand where she is coming from and again, ask questions if you don’t understand her.

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