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Female Married Breadwinners—And How FAs Can Serve Them

By Lisa Wirthman

By 2030, women will control two-thirds of the nation’s wealth. Yet women, a fast-growing financial client base, may often find themselves ignored by financial advisors who don’t take the time to understand what they need.

Take the 12 million women who are married breadwinners—and who now represent nearly 25% of high net worth households. While these women function as the primary income earners in their homes, and are comfortable deciding between investment options, 4 in 10 feel patronized by their financial advisors, according to recent research from New York Life Investments.

“My advisor treated me like the secretary…I’m a CEO,” said one survey respondent.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that married breadwinner women are the category of investors most likely to switch advisors. This generates both significant risks and big opportunities for FAs.

Married breadwinners fall into four categories according to New York Life Investments research. Each represents a different household dynamic, partner relationship and opportunity for advisors. And each is summed up by a phrase.

“We’re In This Together”

Married breadwinners in the “We’re in this together” category are in good relationships. They and their spouses are strong allies who respect each other and put their families first.

“This is a group that truly acts as partners,” says Janet Koh, Director, Practice Management, at New York Life Investments. “They’re working as a team every step of the way.”

Such couples tend to split household duties and responsibilities on an equal basis and function in an environment of trust and transparency.  

How should advisors approach such couples, and particularly the women in them? One good way is to acknowledge what the spouses have already achieved on their own—and illustrate how, with professional advice, they can build on their accomplishments.

“I Got It”

The strong women earners who fit into the “I got it” category are proud of their roles as married breadwinners and believe that they’re setting good examples for their children. They enjoy controlling their household finances and taking leadership roles in long-term planning.

These women investors are also likely to be the primary decision-makers in their relationships. They’re the ones who choose and hire financial advisors.

Their spouses are typically supportive of their breadwinner roles. A woman who is in the “I got it” group takes charge, says Jennifer Tarsney, Director, Practice Management, at New York Life Investments. “She is not only the breadwinner, but she is also the leader of the household.”

One liability associated with this woman is that because she’s so on top of things, she may end up leaving her spouse out of financial planning decisions. That can pose a risk to the family.

Advisors can appeal to these breadwinners by congratulating them on their success and offering further financial education. After all, even someone who’s squarely in control can always learn something new—including how to loop in a spouse when a decision needs to be made.

“A Little Help, Please”

These married breadwinners feel the weight of the world on their shoulders.

They earn incomes while also handling more than their share of household responsibilities. Tired, stressed and frustrated, they may want more from their spouses. They are also likely to view their earning role as having a negative impact on their relationship.

Advisors can help these women by offering empathy and financial education, and by taking the lead in financial planning. These women will appreciate solutions that help them mitigate the challenges they face.

“I’ve Got It From Here”

Married breadwinners in “I’ve got it from here” couples appreciate their partners’ past hard work—but now things have changed.

Maybe these women’s spouses have retired, or maybe the women are now out-earning them. Such women are eager to support their households and are proud to be able to do it.

“I’ve got it from here” couples are typically older and are thus more established in their financial planning.

Even though they’re eager to take the financial reins, women in these situations may be relatively unprepared when it comes to the responsibilities that come with money. Why? Because they most likely took a back seat in financial planning when they weren’t the breadwinners. 

That’s where an advisor can come in, helping them feel comfortable.

Advisors should acknowledge what couples of this sort have already built and show them how they can keep the winning streak going.

Making Time To Learn

Financial education is a top priority for the women in all of the above categories. The problem is that these women typically have little available time to pursue it.

“One of the lessons that we go through when we focus on transforming businesses with female clients is being flexible and understanding that now more than ever—especially as they’re in the midst of the pandemic and working from home—they may have even less time for education,” Koh says. 

Advisors can help with the schedule crunch by finding times that work for their female clients and by planning virtual events. They also need to be cognizant of women’s time by being concise and to the point.

In the end, it’s all about engagement, adds Tarsney: FAs who find better ways to engage with their female clients will find that their relationships continue to get stronger.

“We passionately believe that the advisors who are good with women clients will be the winners in this business going forward,” she says.

Lisa Wirthman is a journalist who writes about business, public policy and women’s issues.

This material is provided for education purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice or an offer to sell or the solicitation of offers to buy any security. Any references to performance is not indicative of results you may obtain from any specific securities. Opinions expressed herein are current opinions as of the date appearing in this material only. You should obtain advice specific to your circumstances from your own legal, accounting and tax advisors, as applicable.

“New York Life Investments” is both a service mark, and the common trade name, of certain investment advisors affiliated with New York Life Insurance Company.

The MainStay Funds® are managed by New York Life Investment Management LLC and distributed by NYLIFE Distributors LLC, 30 Hudson Street, Jersey City, NJ 07302, a wholly owned subsidiary of New York Life Insurance Company. IndexIQ® is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of New York Life Investment Management Holdings LLC and serves as the advisor to the IndexIQ ETFs. ALPS Distributors, Inc. (ALPS) is the principal underwriter of the ETFs. NYLIFE Distributors LLC is a distributor of the ETFs. NYLIFE Distributors LLC is located at 30 Hudson Street, Jersey City, NJ 07302. ALPS Distributors, Inc. is not affiliated with NYLIFE Distributors LLC. NYLIFE Distributors LLC is a Member FINRA/SIPC.

For more information about MainStay Funds®, call 800-624-6782 for a prospectus or summary prospectus. For more information about IndexIQ ETFs®, call 888-474-7725 for a prospectus or summary prospectus. Investors are asked to consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses of the investment carefully before investing. The prospectus or summary prospectus contains this and other information about the investment company. Please read the prospectus or summary prospectus carefully before investing.

At New York Life Investments, we don’t just offer investment advice, we invest in lasting client relationships. New York Life Investments is comprised of the affiliated global asset management businesses of our parent company, New York Life Insurance Company. We’re a global asset manager with a focus on long-term thinking and a diverse multi-boutique structure that you access through MainStay Funds and IndexIQ ETFs. We strive to deliver meaningful outcomes for the investment needs of our clients, and we work hard to deliver value beyond just investment performance. New York Life Investments: More than Investing. Invested.

Source: Forbes – Money

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