So if wealth management was a sport, where would women be? Would they be on the field, on the bench, in the stands? Would they be handing out the Gatorade?
As a widow, I am very familiar with on the bench, watching life go by, and handing out the Gatorade.
It is no secret that the financial industry has been male-dominated, currently and historically. Typically one-third of financial advisors are female; the rest are male. With women in higher management, it's significantly less.
I can spout the data, tell you the statistics, all the numbers of widows, and it's a growing population and all of the wealth that they will control in the next 30 years. Still, ultimately we have to find common ground and a common language between widows and financial advisors if we are going to connect in a meaningful way.
So here's my question, if financial advising for widows was like the game of American football, who would be the coach? Who's the quarterback? Who protects the line so the ball can advance? You're the wealth manager. You can't do all three. You can be the coach, that decision partner. You can choose the people on the line to help protect her. They don't call them guards for nothing, but you cannot be the quarterback. She is.
They need your expertise. But they want to choose and call the play. You're going to play several roles as an advisor to a widow, and you can be the team MVP. But you're not the quarterback. She is. She is the ultimate underdog. It could be that Cinderella story of the year.
So be the coach that creates the place for her, teaches the difference between small strategic financial passes or the risky hail Mary bomb. Choose team members for that offensive line to protect her, guard her, and keep her remaining on offense. Because you know the saying, it came from Jack Dempsey, a 1930s world heavyweight champion boxer. "The best defense is a good offense." I'll repeat it. "The best defense is a good offense."
As a widow, you have no idea how often we get taken advantage of. You walk in a room, or you're in a business or with a client, and you say you're a widow, and it gives everybody and their dog a license to tell you what to do, what to think, and how to progress forward.
Widows are pretty darn smart. Typically right now, the average age of a widow is 59 years old. We're educated, we've had careers, and we've been responsible for the household's financial decisions. So tread lightly. How about you meet me where I am?
Number one, you've got to learn about them. Ask them who they really are, where they grew up, all the things. Ask some more things, ask about their education, their career, their family, all those things. Speak their language. They don't want graphs, portfolios, and all the data. That is a snooze fest to women.
We want the big picture. What can our money do for us, and how do we protect that? Can it send me back to college? Which mine did. Can it pay for my daughter's wedding? Can it provide vacations for my family? What will retirement look like for me? And on the flip side, we got playing offense.
These are penalties—flag on the play. Please don't do them when you are meeting with the widow, disrespecting or not listening to her, flag the play. Dumbing down the financial terms, condescending behaviors, and not taking her seriously when she asks a question and dictating to her how you do business.
This is a collective thing. There really are fundamental differences between how men and women relate to financial decisions. Do you want to score touchdowns, or do you want to recover from penalties and fumbles? Who do you want to be?
There are only going to be so many fumbles and flags that women will put up with. They're going to start asking their friends for a new financial advisor.
Over 70% of widows leave their current financial advisor the first year. You'll get dumped. That's another statistically male-dominated experience. They'll dump you. They won't tell you why. They'll move on.
To my advisor friends, I'm not here to judge you; I'm here to help you. Whether you are male or female, there has been some language, habits, and practices passed down from a very male-dominated industry for decades.
Let's find out together what women want. Specifically, what widows want. If you can learn her language and relate to her genuinely, she will hand you the ball and make you a decision partner. If you protect her, you need to block as if life depends on it because her life does.
Lastly, if you have the opportunity to work with a widow, it is like picking up that game-winning fumble. What are you going to do with it? I hope you have a beautiful week. And remember, always support your home team.