Three Women Advisors Explain The Common Needs Of Female Clients And Advice On Serving Them

In an industry that has been and continues to be predominantly male with a historical focus on male clients, women are advancing, both as advisors and professionals as well as clients, but gaps persist. Some, though not all, of the gaps exists because of a lack of understanding, and our industry can advance women more quickly if all advisors give due attention to the common needs and uniqueness of female clients.

To bring a better understanding of these needs and ways to meet them to advisors and other client-facing professionals in wealth management, we spoke with three women professionals at affiliates of Dynasty Financial Partners: Adrianna Stasiuk, Partner and Investment Advisor at Aaron Wealth Advisors; Daniela Pedley, Partner at Summit Trail Advisors; and Caroline Wetzel, VP, Private Wealth Advisor at Procyon Partners,

We asked each of them: What should advisors bear in mind to provide optimal service for female clients, and what mistakes do advisors make?

Their responses follow.

Adrianna Stasiuk, Partner, Investment Advisor, Aaron Wealth Advisors

In my experience, female clients tend to prefer collaborative and inclusive communication styles. I always make sure to share equitable eye contact in face-to-face meetings, making sure I don’t focus attention and eye contact towards the male participants of a meeting. I’ve witnessed cringe-worthy situations where advisors focus all the attention on the male audience in a room or pull out their cell phones during meetings.

That collaborative communication style often includes an emphasis on education and providing explanations in plain language. Providing education on financial concepts and strategies can empower my female clients. Using complex financial jargon can automatically turn off a client’s attention and interest.

While not always the case, studies have shown that women tend to take a more conservative approach to investing and risk-taking. It’s critical that an advisor provides clear guidance and tailor investment recommendations accordingly to ensure the client is taking enough risk to achieve their long-term goals. Not only do women tend to take less investment risk, but they also tend to experience unique life events such as taking prolonged career breaks for maternity, caregiving, divorce or widowhood, which can drastically impact their career earning power and financial situation.

Daniela Pedley, Partner, Summit Trail Advisors

As an advisor catering to ultra-high net worth individuals, particularly focusing on female clients, I have learned that it is important for them to feel heard, so I lead with empathy – letting them set the pace and listening closely to understand their priorities. Many women prefer to be truly understood before delving into discussions about their financial matters.

I recognize the importance of giving female clients space to express concerns and ask questions without feeling dismissed or overshadowed by their partners. Often, they worry their concerns may be unimportant, or their partners are more vocal with questions. They can, however, be just as insightful and creative as their partners, so there is value in keeping them engaged.

Sometimes wives can be sidelined. I have one who frequently is barely or not at all on screen during a Zoom, so I make a point to draw her into the conversation by asking direct questions. If I can’t spend time with her during the joint meeting, I reach out later to meet one-to-one.

To maintain my women clients’ trust, I meet them where they are at. I have occasionally spent the first 45 minutes with a client either needing to share something personal or in tears. It’s worth spending the time, because I get to know my client better and they then have more mental bandwidth to make the remaining meeting time more efficient and valuable.

By prioritizing empathy, understanding and patience in my interactions with female clients, I build trust, foster long-term relationships, and empower them to achieve their financial goals with confidence and clarity.

Caroline Wetzel, VP, Private Wealth Advisor, Procyon Partners

After resolving a difficult circumstance, a client confided in me: “Getting through this with you is like getting through life with a smart friend – thanks. I feel so much better.”

Too few advisors have the courage and confidence to “get comfortable feeling uncomfortable” with their women clients and ask them open-ended questions about what is important to them. While it is important for advisors to address financial challenges like creating cash flows in retirement to allocating assets appropriately, women I advise tell me that they chose to work with me because they felt comfortable talking to me about what’s going on in their lives “beyond portfolio returns.”

Women tell me what keeps them awake at night and I strive to listen without judgment, with a desire to understand what’s on their heads and hearts. From serving as caretakers to loved ones, to watching their partners’ physical and mental faculties decline over time, to, ultimately, surviving their spouses and facing potentially years of independent living without wanting to feel “alone,” women are navigating many ambiguous circumstances. These circumstances require creative thinking and flexibility over time when it comes to how they utilize their finances.

And when it comes to providing women value, the women I advise like both education and perspective. In addition to a solution to challenges, they like it when I provide information, context, and why I propose specific ways forward for them. This consultative partnership promotes engagement and deepens our relationship as we continuously iterate financial strategies for their unique situations.