In Focus: Advice for Women  

Relationship with female clients 'pivotal' to future success

Relationship with female clients 'pivotal' to future success

Relationships with female clients are pivotal to the future success of adviser firms, today's FTAdviser webinar has heard. 

Jessica Ayres, a financial consultant at Timothy James and Partners, was speaking at the ‘Financial advice for women at big life stages’ webinar today (January 27), pointing to research from Schroders that showed 70 per cent of women leave their adviser within one year of their partner passing away.

Ayres said: “If we are not engaging with these women, and 70 per cent are going to go to another financial adviser once widowed, it’s something we really need to focus on.”

The Schroders report, called ‘Taking the reins - Transfer of wealth to women’, also found a general trend among the women interviewed of feeling quite distanced from both their finances and their financial advisers.

“Financial advisers like myself need to look at our communication skills,” Ayres added.

Gillian Hepburn, head of UK intermediary solutions at Schroders, highlighted that between 2016 and 2017, 15 per cent of adviser practices lost half of their value as a result of not having a retention strategy in place.

She said a lot of focus has been placed on retention strategies as assets move through generations.

“The first point of transfer typically in the baby boomer generation is husband to wife, and that’s something we really need to sit up and take notice of.

“[On average] it takes eight weeks for the financial adviser to be notified of a death [of their client] and at each step of the way between the death and the notification, there are lots of opportunities for people to offer advice to that widow.

“A significant factor in that time is family influence, at a time where the widow is vulnerable.”

The relationship building can take place before a client is widowed, said Dr Eliza Filby, who interviewed 30 women aged between 50 and 75 for the report.

She said a number of women said they would switch off in meetings with their financial advisers and delegate it to their husbands, and most of the time, the women reported, the financial adviser did not really recognise this was happening.

“I spoke to a lot of widows who said 'as soon as my husband died, my children took over and would tap into their own networks',” she said.

“So they have gone from delegating to the husband to delegating to the children and in that process the financial adviser then loses the spouse and the children [as clients].”

The report highlighted five things advisers can do to re-engage with their female clients: 

  1. Listen - get to know these women’s stories, their support infrastructure, and hopes and aspirations
  2. Plan early - women are not an afterthought but central to the family relationship
  3. Educate - widowhood can be a moment when women discover their financial confidence
  4. Communicate - get to know their preferred way of communication
  5. Diversify - employing female advisers will ensure that you do not forget this key demographic

sally.hickey@ft.com