Research world-wide has identified that women feel under-served by financial services companies. Below is an example of why….

I recently received a call from a financial services company in response to an email I had sent to a (female) contact of mine who came referred by my financial advisor. He informed me that whilst his female colleague was no longer working with that firm, we would try to help me. Given that this gentleman was responding to an email I had sent, I was looking forward to a constructive conversation to solve a particularly important financial matter. However, what the conversation soon turned sour. Why?

  1. This advisor had clearly not taken the time to read my email which set out my questions on the specific matter with the precision of a surgeon
  2. Rather than seek to understand my situation, he proceeded to question why I may even be considering doing what I was doing, including why I was researching the specific matter for which I had approached his colleague in the first place.

I became very vexed and had to cut the conversation short. Instead of approaching me as a potential customer, I felt he was aggressively condescending to me. The potentially lucrative relationship for him ended there.

Research from around the world, as well as the GCC has highlighted that women feel underserved when it comes to financial services.

In our last Best Brands Marketing to Women Survey, only 4% of women in the GCC believed Financial Services companies catered well to the female demographic.

Given the above example, it is clear to see why. This was a clear instance of how NOT to sell financial services to women.

For those who are looking to tap into the female dirham, pound or dollar, these are some of the key tenets women are looking for when establishing rapport with any advisor:

  • Empathy is key – if you are a selling (anything, including professional services), you have to understand HER situation. Spend time asking questions and listen! Be patient. Do not question her questions or approach. Take time to listen to what she is looking for. Do not jump in and interrupt her mid-sentence. Like me, she is likely to feel undermined.
  • Watch your language and your tone women’s brains are fine-tuned to capture the non-verbal cues more than men. So, maintain a level of calm interest and slow down. Women do not appreciate being steam-rollered and any potential “aggressive” language and cutting tone will be interpreted as doing just that.
  • Take your time – don’t rush in with a solution. Men like to solve, so resist the urge to jump in and offer your views. Even if you have a specific solution in mind, dig deep by asking questions and take some time to come up with a special solution just for her. Offer to take some time to “research” and then come back to her. She will appreciate the fact that you have made the investment to look into her matter.

I am lucky in that for the last 10 years I have had the benefit of a male financial advisor whose approach offers what I call a Gender Savvy service – an empathetic and service-oriented approach to managing his (female) clients. It is thus no surprise that I would look no further for any issues and have, indeed, referred him to a number of my friends and contacts.

Christina Ioannidis is the Chair of the Marketing to Women Conference. She has extensive  experience and insight into gender science and applies behavioural differences to optimise commercial and business practices.