Till Death (or Incapacity) Do Us Part

Since 65% of all healthcare workers are women, and women in general make 80% of the healthcare decisions on behalf of their families, wouldn’t it stand to reason that they should play a significant role in the healthcare profession? One would think, yet sadly, only 30% of the people in senior management positions in healthcare are women.[1]

While addressing the slow progress of women’s advancement in senior positions is not something that can easily be tackled, especially here – advisors can at least take note that among their clients, women are the ones most likely to be engaged in the health of their families and, in fact, may even work in the field.

What does this mean to you? It means understanding and being sensitive to her perspective – a perspective that is likely to be quite different than that of your male clients. Her outlook on the future and her financial needs might include long and short-term health scenarios for herself, her kids, her partner or for that matter even her extended family. As her advisor, you need to engage her in the healthcare conversation in order to advise properly on the potential precautions to take.

Fortunately for you, you will find that women are easier (than men) to engage in “what if’s” related to health and death decisions. They tend to be more practical when it comes to taking on an expanded role in relation to healthcare issues and they are eager to make sure their kids (if they have any) don’t have to make tough decisions on their behalf related to their health later in life.

Nevertheless health and certainly old age and death are difficult topics – not always easy to broach. As a financial advisor, you need to tread lightly and, of course, keep in mind that each scenario is likely to be different depending on many factors. Also, you shouldn’t be afraid to make it personal – a simple comment about your own kids or parents or friends or a client you serve – makes you human – just keep it brief. Here are two examples of how you could raise the subject…

  • “Given how youthful and active you are, talking about future healthcare issues may seem premature – but planning for the future is what I’m all about for you. Have you given it any thought? What would you like to have happen if health issues crop up – or in the unlikely event that one of you gets incapacitated or even dies? I know, not pleasant topics but being prepared is so important.”
  • “I’m guessing that seeing your kids and grandkids grow up and flourish is hugely gratifying – I can hardly wait to reap the rewards of grandparenting. Having your son John nearby now that Bob has settled in long-term care must be a great comfort. Have you thought about your own long-term care? It’s important to consider what you’d like to have happen ahead of time. It may be a good idea to plan a meeting just on that subject. Then I’ll be able to come back to you with realistic options to make your wishes come to life. Perhaps we could even sit down with John at some point.”

Whatever your approach, it is a good to think it through before the meeting, refresh your memory about the client’s circumstances and be prepared. Then at the next meeting, listen carefully especially to what she talks about, ask a lot of questions, make sure you understand their concerns and what she really wants – even if you don’t get to your part of the pitch…you can always reconvene after you’ve thoroughly listened.

On a final note – it is always a good idea to bring up involving adult kids. But be prepared and again, let common sense guide you – not all families are on the same page – parents don’t always want kids involved and vice-versa. The best you can, and should do, is to remind her that it is important to let others know what she wants to happen – by letting extended family or a close friend know.

Remember that at the end of the day – your job is making sure their wishes are honoured. Female clients in particular are interested in sharing and meeting with a sensitive individual.As to getting more women in senior positions – healthcare or otherwise – it starts with every one of us.

To learn how to better connect with your female clients – visit us at: https://www.strategymarketing.ca/advisor-education/courses/

[1] Women in Heathcare Leadership 2019, Oliver Wyman

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