NAIFA’s Diversity Symposium Offers Help in Finding Success in the Women’s Market


Participants at the symposium

NAIFA’s recent Diversity Symposium was a valuable source of information about an important market segment for agents and financial advisors—women.

Held during the association’s Performance + Purpose Conference in San Antonio last month, the symposium brought together industry experts, leaders and visionaries who shared time-tested solutions for attracting women to the financial-services industry and proven techniques for working successfully with a wide range of women’s groups.

Ali Agha, CFP, with New York Life, and a member of NAIFA’s Diversity Task Force, introduced the main speakers of the symposium–Kim Fisher, Market Manager and Corporate Vice President with New York Life, and Cammie Scott, LUTCF, REBC, RHU, with CK Harp &

Associates, and Chair of NAIFA’s Diversity Task Force.

During her presentation, Fisher shared several key facts and figures about the Women’s Market. Among those mentioned:

• As of July 2014, there were 162 million women in the U.S. (Annuity, 2012 IAR Mortality Tables)
• Sixty-four percent of women have no back-up plan if they were to retire sooner than planned. (Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies)
• The average life expectancy of women is 85 to 87 years.
• After the death of their husband, women on average have about 30 years to live.
• A 65-year-old woman in the U.S. has a 50 percent chance of living to the age of 91. (Annuity 2012, IAR Mortality Tables)
• $4.3 trillion is controlled by women in the U.S.
• Women have a median retirement savings of $34K, men have $115K. (Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies)
• Only 10 percent of women are confident in their ability to fully retire comfortably. (6 ways men and women differ on retirement, NAPA Net, May 26, 2017)
• 75.6 million of women were in the workforce as of 2014.
• The median annual earnings of women 15 years and older in the workforce in 2014 was $39,621.
• Women are interested in learning about minimizing the risk that they will run out of money during their retirement.
• Some of the services women value from their advisor are: creating a formal retirement-income plan and having a more realistic picture of their retirement lifestyle.
• Women represent a valuable and loyal advisor client base. Advisors who recognize and fulfill the needs of this client base are likely to be rewarded.

Working with female consumers
Fisher also shared some characteristics advisors should watch out for as they help women acquire the financial products and services they need:
*Women are loyal, but it takes them longer to trust agents and advisors than men.
* Many women don’t see the value of buying life insurance for themselves. Consequently, many of them have to be persuaded to do so.
*Women want to be asked for the sale.
*Women want to believe that they are being heard by their service providers. This is key in connecting with them.
* 52 percent of women prefer face-to-face meetings when buying life insurance.

Recruiting and retaining women
In addition, Fisher offered some tactics for recruiting and retaining women advisors in the financial-services industry. They include:
*Recruiters should keep in mind that when women are seeking employment in the industry, not all of them are motivated solely by money.

They also care about the number of people they can positively impact. As a result, the message recruiters should focus on is: “The financial-services industry provides you with the opportunity to help others.”
* Recruiters should be careful in using the word “flexibility” to describe one of the benefits of working as an agent or advisor because many women do not like the word “flexibility;” they prefer the word “control” instead.
*When recruiters are trying to recruit women to their organizations, they should have photographs of senior women executives, as well as of men, on the walls of their offices.
As female candidates are assessing organizations that they are interested in working for, many want to see that it is possible for them to aspire to leadership positions in the organization. “Women want to see what their career path with that organization is like,” Fisher said.
*During job interviews, recruiters should not ask female candidates about their children; instead, they should ask about their families.

Reaching different groups
After a short break, Cammie Scott asked participants to break into small groups and take part in Table Exercises designed to help them develop market strategies for the following Women’s Groups:
*Caretakers for Parents
*Single Women
*Single Moms
*Parents of Special-Needs Children
*Remarried with Mixed Family
Participants were provided with case studies of women representing each of these groups and asked to come up with strategies for building effective market-development plans.

At the end of the exercises, participants had developed some useful strategies for finding success in their markets. For example, those who worked on the “Market Plan for Widows” offered the following advice:
*The mission statement for this group should be: To create a plan that meets both the short- and long-term needs of this group.
*Position yourself as the go-to advisor for this segment.
*Establish relationships with support groups, estate planners, and school counselors.
*Develop connections with other professionals you can refer your clients to.
*Skills needed to work successfully in this market include empathy, patience, good listening skills, resourcefulness and ability to think outside the box.

As the symposium drew to a close, Fisher reminded attendees that there is still a lot of work to be done in the women’s market. In working with women, she emphasized, soft skills are just as important as hard skills. Also, you need to know your facts and figures–and learn how to use them to recruit women and as you work with different groups.
Scott then thanked all of the participants for attending the symposium and announced the topic for the next NAIFA Symposium: Multicultural Markets. This meeting will take place from May 13 to May 15, 2019.