Having it All: Working With Wealthy Women Means Going Beyond Financial Advice
As a financial advisor who’s built a practice focused largely on women, I have the privilege of working with clients who are smart go-getters, leaders in their field and, in many cases, bosses in their households.
I also share their many moments of frustration.
Sitting across the table – or at the other end of a Zoom call – from these successful, wealthy women, I often learn about their struggles with money and their fears about their ability to ensure the healthy financial futures of their families.
While these challenges aren’t exclusive to women, I have found that my female clients tend to respond differently to their financial circumstances due to the simple fact that they have different priorities. Many are raising children and are juggling roles as mother, wife and high-achieving professional or businesswoman. Despite their successes, many are also in the dark about finances and financial markets.
Here are some of the ways I try to help them:
I create a safe space for learning
I believe that a big contributor to the well-documented problem of low financial literacy among women is the fact that women have, in general, been programmed by society to not ask “too many questions.” So, I emphasize, meeting after meeting, that it’s okay to not know about finances. I’ve learned to read body language and can recognize the subtle signals my clients send out when I fall into jargon. I also let them know that our conversation doesn’t have to end when our meeting ends – they can always pick up the phone with a follow-up question.
I make sure I understand – and can deliver – what they need
Financial statements tell only a small part of people’s story and as financial advisors we have to be willing to dig deep into our clients’ narrative. This means asking a lot of questions – including tough ones like “do you have a pre-nup?” – and being honest enough to acknowledge what you can’t provide. In the case of the latter, if I don’t have the expertise to meet an aspect of what a client needs, I bring in someone who does. Simple, problem solved.
I get into the soft, touchy-feely stuff
Yes, I know that financial advisors aren’t therapists, but I think we have the knowledge and experience to help our clients deal with the emotional implications of wealth. For many of my clients, being wealthy is a relatively new thing. Some have gained affluence after years of hard work and smart investing, while others have inherited from parents or a spouse. While they appreciate their wealth and what it buys them, many of my clients also grapple with existential questions brought on by their good fortune. For some, their money even creates problems in their relationships. Accordingly, I let them know it’s alright to talk about these things. I also help them find meaning in their wealth by engaging them in deep conversations about what’s truly important to them. These talks can get very personal, but they help me understand the impact of wealth not only on my clients’ lifestyles but also on how they view life.
And the more I know, the better I can serve my clients!
Elke Rubach is Principal at Rubach Wealth.