What Banks Can Learn From Women

Yesterday, DailyWorth founder Amanda Steinberg and the FCS hosted a panel for financial services executives about how banks lack clarity when it comes to women. And clearly they need our help: 73 percent of surveyed women have said they feel dissatisfied with the financial services industry. Women report feeling condescended to, receiving poor or contradictory advice, and getting worse deals than male clients.

Distinguished panelists included Sallie Krawcheck, chair of Ellevate, Jean Chatzky, financial editor for NBC and DailyWorth contributor, Becky Saeger, board member of E*TRADE and Turn, and Leslie Bennetts, former contributing editor of Vanity Fair.

Considering women are on track to inherit two-thirds of the nation’s wealth, the financial services industry is confused. Historically, male-dominated banks are accustomed to talking to husbands — a strategy that won’t hold up as we move into the future.

Ladies are not only increasingly becoming the breadwinner, but they are on their own. Between divorce, death of a spouse, or a preference for being single, American women are spending more time alone with their money.

“Ninety percent of women handle their money on their own at some point in their life,” pointed out Krawcheck, deemed one of Wall Street’s most powerful women.

Bennetts underscored this point with, “The majority of women are now not married and yet we still speak to the paradigm of women as being partnered."

And women want to be making money. Despite the media failing to recognize that women are just as capable as men of wanting to build wealth and power, more than half of women who earn above the poverty line ($30,000+ annually) are scared of “becoming bag ladies,” according to Bennetts. (One-quarter of women earning more than $200,000 have the same fear).

"As a baby boomer, no one is talking to me,” said Saeger, who admitted to firing her financial advisor for not communicating or understanding her needs. Chatzky had also recently fired her advisor for similar reasons.

The notion that all American homes are still structured like Leave It to Beaver doesn’t reflect where many women are in their lifestyles, marriages, or families. "Financial services marketers, and most brand marketers, live in a 'myth' of how genders and gender roles divide, but they're so far from reality," said Bennetts.

While the panel collectively agreed that the financial jargon needs to be accessible (read: obliterated), the larger question loomed of why the big boy banks aren’t recognizing their most viable customer base.

What would you tell your bank about your experience? How could they better reach and engage  women? What do they need to know about making and marketing your credit cards, investment accounts, financial advisory teams, and insurance? Please share your thoughts below.

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