'Make eye contact and engage women investors'

Advisor says industry must make more effort to involve women in household financial and investment decisions

'Make eye contact and engage women investors'

Advisors need to look women investors in the eye and make more effort to engage them in their household’s financial decisions.

Marie Phillips, wealth advisor, IPC Securities Corporation, says many women have not made financial literacy a priority as husbands take the lead and they focus on caregiver roles. Others, she said, are frankly turned off by talk of portfolio construction and investment returns, joking that some women would “rather poke their eye out with a pen”.

Phillips said both groups must be brought into the conversation, along with those who wanted to play a bigger part in major money decisions but were not included in the discussion or who felt ignored in meetings with advisors.

A recent poll by IPC Private Wealth among 400 affluent Canadians with at least $500,000 in investable assets revealed that 74% of men said they were the lead financial and investment decision-makers in their household compared to only 46% of women.

Phillips said: “Generally speaking, men are very much focused on investment returns while women are focused on outcomes and the experience for their families. So I think that’s pretty natural that we see that.”

She said the advisor has a crucial role in making women feel comfortable in talking about their financial needs, especially considering the fact they tend to outlive their partners. “You don’t want to get to 70 and not have a clue,” Phillips said.

An IPC study last fall, she said, also revealed that after divorce, 70% of women changed advisors because they hadn’t felt engaged enough when attending meetings with their spouse. And ahead of of tomorrow’s International Women’s Day, Phillips said it’s time the industry did more to empower the fairer sex.

She said: “We need to talk about values. What are their goals? Talk about the outcomes, not about the performance. Women, in turn, need to be very clear about what they want out of retirement so that when they are working with an advisor we can really provide a roadmap to achieve those goals.

“So they need to learn how withdrawals will affect their taxes. What kind of plan will reflect their values?”

She added:  “Make eye contact. If a woman comes to the meeting with their husband, for example, make sure the advisor is talking to them and making eye contact with them.

“Bring them into the conversation. It’s so easy, and I’m beating up on my male colleagues here, to talk to the guy who is interested. If you see someone not interested, it’s harder to pull them into the conversation.”

The latest poll also showed that when it comes to passing on their wealth to the next generation, women (23%) are more worried than men (17%) that their children will not have anything to pass on to their own kids. Women are also more open to discussing inheritance plans with heirs: 15% of men surveyed said they don’t plan to discuss instructions at all with heirs, while only 8% of women said the same thing.