When it comes to retirement planning, there’s a thread of truth in the phrase “men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Certainly, men and women are more alike than not when it comes to looking for financial security. But there are two main differences that advisors working with both groups have noted.
1. Women may not be as informed as their male counterparts
Historically, women may have taken a backseat to their husbands when it came to making investment decisions, says Binney Wietlisbach, president of Haverford Trust. She adds, however, that times have certainly changed. Women are working and earning much more than even just a few short years ago, so they’re much more likely to have input into their family’s financial plans.
But Wietlisbach still finds some of her female clients are less financially savvy than her male clients. She believes that women may need a bit more time to catch up to men in financial knowledge – and that advisors have to do a better job in educating all of their clients.
“Women are stretched for time, but they can’t abdicate their financial role to someone else, especially when 80 percent of women will be the head of the household at some point, by choice or not,” she says.
2. Women take longer to develop trust in their advisor
According to Mimi Schanzlin, managing director of United Capital’s Buffalo, New York office, female clients often require more upfront work from their advisors.
“Women are more cautious by nature and, depending on their history, maybe they haven’t been treated well by their advisor,” she says. “But once you develop the trust, they are very loyal clients.”
Some of their reticence might be due to fears and concerns about shortfalls in their savings.
“Maybe they were home with children and didn’t earn as much as they would have liked when they were younger,” she says. “They may feel as if they are pulled in many directions. They can be competent and successful women, but they’re still a bit unsure when it comes to their finances.”
Unfortunately, a woman’s needs can still often come last on the list, she says, which can make it hard to articulate their financial goals.
Advisors need to go the extra mile to help female clients clarify their retirement needs. Schanzlin suggests sitting down with the client and having a long and honest conversation about prioritizing financial goals.
Advisors should dig deep to get a true sense of what retirement means for the client. That can be an emotional process, involving identifying spending habits, discussing financial concerns and plotting out retirement strategies. And if the advisor is dealing with a couple, they need to address both parties — even when the wife takes a backseat in the conversation.
“Our goal is to help people make decisions,” Schanzlin says.