CHICAGO Jan 17 Financial adviser Khloe Karova
counsels her mostly female clients on a lot more than
investments: career strategy, salary negotiations, budgeting -
even life goals. She has been known to make house calls to keep
them on track, questioning big-ticket purchases such as cars
that haven't been accounted for ahead of time.
"I have women across many different generations and
backgrounds," says Karova, a Chicago-based adviser with $25
million under management. "I solve problems through the lens of
Karova's holistic approach toward her clients, most of whom
are accumulating their wealth, is just one of the ways financial
advisers are offering more comprehensive services to cater to
the distinct needs of women, among the fast-growing groups of
The emphasis on women comes at a time when women in the U.S.
outlive men by an average of six years, according to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention. That means women whose
husbands die before them suddenly might have to take control of
their family's finances.
It might sound cliché, but to resonate with the growing
ranks of financially independent women, advisers need to find
ways to better connect with them. They have different demands
and preferences than male clients.
A PERSONAL CONNECTION
First and foremost in an advisory relationship, female
investors look for good listeners, followed by problem solvers
and technical investment experts, according to research
conducted by Hannah Shaw Grove, an expert on private wealth
management who has surveyed high-net-worth investors.
They also cite bad personal chemistry as a deal breaker,
which makes the first meeting - when emotional bonds typically
are formed - crucial, advisers say.
"Our goal is to let them talk more than we do," says
Patricia Farrar-Rivas, the San Francisco-based managing partner
of Veris Wealth Partners, a national wealth management firm with
roughly $650 million of regulatory assets under management.
"They want dialogue. They want to be listened to and treated
Women often come to the table with more questions than their
male counterparts do and frequently prepare for the initial
meeting, says Farrar-Rivas. By the time a woman meets an adviser
for the first time, she has likely done research online and
talked to friends and acquaintances about the firm, its strategy
and potential investment choices.
Her firm tries to be competitive by working with women on a
"full financial picture" as part of the overall service. It also
presents potential investments based on the client's specific
interests, such as community building or education.
A FINANCIAL EDUCATION
Kimberly Foss, a financial adviser in the Sacramento,
California, area, says many female clients - especially those
newly widowed or divorced - rely on her to fill in the gaps in
basic financial education.
She is careful not to patronize, noting that some clients
have told her they came to her from their prior advisers for
that very reason.
"(Women) don't want to be lectured to," says Foss, whose
boutique firm manages $200 million for high-net-worth clients,
but they still crave information about investing basics and
Just being a woman and having similar life experiences can
foster a connection. In Morristown, New Jersey, Jennifer Murray
has focused on working with female investors since she started
her practice in 2006, two years after becoming a widow in her
early 40s. She didn't intend her firm - Stonebridge Financial
Advisors - to develop a predominantly female clientele, but it
worked out that way.
"Because of my own experience I was getting referrals from
friends and colleagues of women who were recently widowed," says
Murray, whose firm has $47 million under management.
She decided not to fight what was clearly an advantage -
that her clientele takes comfort in knowing their adviser has
weathered similar financial challenges. They often want to
connect on a personal level, asking questions about how Murray
handled specific situations after becoming a widow.
Many of her clients need to work on basic budgeting issues;
she has them complete an expense worksheet for fixed and
variable income and sometimes distributes their investment
earnings in the form of a monthly paycheck.
In recent years, she has found ways to market directly to
women, such as creating a company website that offers advice for
specific life events and resources such as books and other
websites tailored to single women.
"When they go to my website, they go, 'Oh, my gosh, this is
me," she says.