Here's a question for you. Who do you think spends more time with a client, a man or woman? I guess you probably figured that if I should ask such a stupid question, it would mean that the answer is not all that obvious. You're right again.

According to a new study from the Financial Planning Association and Oppenheimer Funds, female financial planners are more likely to spend additional time on client service than men. Lauren Coulston, assistant VP of advocacy programs at Oppenheimer, says, "Women are good at building and maintaining relationships which are valuable qualities that help them excel as financial planners."

This study looked at 150 men and 184 women, all members of the FPA. James Barnash, its president, points out that "Financial planning is a great profession in which women can succeed. As the survey results suggests, there is not a glass ceiling that exists so a woman's success is based solely on her ability to provide a high level of service to her clients."

The study shows that men depend more on getting referrals from clients than do women, who generally obtain them from professional contacts.  In fact, some 53 percent of women planners say that their practices will grow more than 50 percent via referrals. That percentage is only 33 percent with men.

Coulston adds that female planners value their referrals recognizing that they represent a key to business building and apparently take advantage of them more than men do. And although both genders say they don't want to have large practices, the truth is that 10 percent of women have practices with 500 or more clients, while only seven percent of men are in that category.

As to who has what, it is noted that female planners have a much higher percentage of high net worth clients than the men with a younger client base. This pretty much fits in with the time factor. Coulston says, "Attracting and keeping Generation X clients give planners the opportunity to cultivate a long relationship with them." What this may tell you about female planners is that perhaps they are more concerned with actually growing their businesses. Indicators would seem to steer in that direction.

This plays out in time management too. For example, the study shows that men are challenged with regulations on a compliance basis while women are substantially trying (41 percent to 28 percent) to improve profitability. Of course, there is a caveat here. Coulston says that women planners are not less successful than the men even if they have higher net worth clients. It's profitability that is counted. Women consider that the challenging aspect of financial planning and so they focus on it.

And my financial planner is a man. Don't ask.

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