Why the financial industry better start talking to women
Look, women have their own money. Forty percent of heads of households in the United States are women today. It’s just a fact. Don’t worry, the pie hasn’t shrunk — it’s gotten bigger, which is a win for everyone. In reality, it’s all very invigorating for women, somewhat confusing for society, and definitely changing the normalcy of our daily lives.
So while the social construct decides how to digest these changes, what happens next to all that wealth? What do we do with it? I vote: We learn to grow it. If societal change takes power and power is money, it’s our time to re-define our truth with the money we have.
Do women need women-specific wealth management firms? Not particularly. In the end, financial products are gender-neutral. Do wealth management firms and products need to get on the bandwagon and acknowledge the different life experiences women have over the phases of life? Check yes to question #2. At least, if they want to stay relevant — cause this train isn’t going backward anytime soon. (And frankly, they should also want to stay relevant for the up and coming male population that might want something like balance, a family life, and travel in their near future, too, but that’s another conversation).
There are just facts. Women outlive their partners. Women make less when they do the same job. Women are historically more risk-averse than men when investing, but when they do invest they have better returns because they tend to set it, diversify it, and then let it grow for decades. Yes, there is a possibility women are out of the workforce for short periods of time. There is also high evidence they return to the workforce or want to return, but real re-entry barriers exist after their children get to school age. Also, btw, women make or heavily influence 85% of consumer purchases in this country. That’s a lot of green in circulation, y’all. Check yes to women being the practical, I’m-choosing-all-the-stuff-we-need-to-survive spender.
Good financial planners will tell you there is no one-stop-shop solution for any customer. Welcome to 2018, it’s innovative (financial) technology’s turn to finally do what women really need: recognize their reality and meet them where they are. Don’t force them to be alike or be something they’re not. Give them tools and solutions that make their lives easier.
Other industries have figured this out. Glossier is revolutionizing how beauty products are accessed and marketed to a social media-savvy population - intensely focusing on price point. Rent-the-runway, Stichfix, and Armoire are re-inventing how technology allows women to engage with personal stylists and brand names in time-efficient ways (thank you UPS) and, again, price point is a key factor. And do we dare talk about food? I *might* have cried the first time a healthy pre-prepared (delicious) meal showed up on my doorstep from Splendid Spoon (though Blue Apron and HelloFresh are market leaders here).
Technology and innovation across industries are creating solutions that meet the customer where they are. Businesses first identify the consumers interests and priorities, then they reveal the pain points, and focus on providing simple solutions with the lowest cost to the consumer. If it’s a race, we have consumer-facing industries leading the pack (cough, Amazon, et al, cough) and the financial industry beginning to move it’s behemoth legs — in fact, it’s just barely realizing it better start running. 2019 and female-forward, customer-centered financial technology, here we come.