By Skip Briggs CPA/PFS, CFP® and Kim DeAngelis, Bentley Wealth Advisors
Female clients of wealth management firms often have different circumstances behind their financial planning needs. Some are breadwinners and business owners, while others are at-home family caregivers. Some worry about paying college tuition, caring for an elderly family member and managing household finances. Nearly all put their families’ needs ahead of their own.
Many women, however, may not feel comfortable seeking advice and counsel on these issues in a formal client review meeting with their wealth management advisors.
Client demographics of Bentley Wealth Advisors in Warwick, Rhode Island, include a group of women with great life experiences and diverse backgrounds. However, they often seek a different approach, requiring more financial knowledge and education to navigate life transitions. This gave us an opportunity to create a way for our female clients, prospects and subject matter experts to connect and learn about common relevant financial issues.
In early 2013, we developed the Bentley's Women's Circle, a networking and relationship-building group where women could discuss issues, common stories, ideas and resources in a comfortable environment. Instead of hosting a one-time event, the Bentley’s Women’s Circle is a series of “discovery” seminars covering important topics such as family, fitness/well-being and finances. Each seminar was designed to build momentum and connect the emotional issues with the firm’s financial planning benefits, tools, and resources.
One Saturday morning each month, in an open, comfortable setting over brunch, up to 12 clients, prospects and subject matter experts came together to share experiences, network and comfortably talk about matters that are important, yet sometimes overwhelming.
We were prepared to run the sessions like a classroom, but it soon became obvious to us that these sessions would be real-time discussions with participants leading the conversations and opening up about issues that hit home. Many shared personal experiences that brought to life the issues and concerns these women face with finances, health and family.
Each session brought our clients and prospects closer to us because they gained a deeper understanding of why we ask the questions we do in our client meetings, and how our planning process can help educate and prepare them to navigate the family, health and financial issues they face now and in the future. It solidified our relationships with this group even more, and built a tighter, long-term bond.
The group really took a deep look at how they care for others, how to better take care of themselves, and how to build a plan to provide for financial wellness and peace of mind.
An added bonus of the seminars was the bonding between attendees across the group. Many new friendships developed over the three sessions and the women now have a network they can turn to for support and advice. The meetings felt like a gathering around a Thanksgiving dinner table with everyone enjoying each other’s company.
With the discovery series complete, we will now develop a quarterly specialty series, which will take a deep look into topics raised during the discovery sessions. Attendees of the discovery series, along with a guest, will be invited to learn more about specific topics such as long-term care, college planning, retirement and of course the occasional cooking class. A special guest expert speaker will present on each topic.
This series was a great learning experience for Bentley Wealth Advisors and we will be building on these key takeaways:
- Our clients need the insight and help we provide in every aspect of their lives.
- A group of like-minded individuals will open up, even if strangers, when given a comfortable, open forum to communicate.
- Managing the size of the group is critical and keeping the participants to a small number is optimal.
- Choosing relevant topics that engage participants and help answer questions they might not always focus on is important
As we plan the next series, we understand that the dynamics of the group may be different and will be prepared to kick off the sessions as we did the first time. We are excited to embark on the next learning, sharing and bonding journey.
Steps to Develop a Unique Event for Women
If you are ready to take the initiative and develop your own Women’s Circle event, here are a few key considerations:
- Mission/Vision – Why are you developing this event or group?
- Target Audience – Who are you helping? Who has recently lost a loved one, is caring for an elderly parent, is now divorced, is single and could benefit from long-term planning?
- What Do They Seek? – What types of guidance will help? How can you get the dialogue going? This is often accomplished through creating an inviting atmosphere that does not include elements of a formal seminar such as a PowerPoint presentation.
- What Resources and Tools Can I Leverage? – Who can help deliver topics that are important to women investors, wives, mothers and caregivers? What women centers of influence do you know internally and externally, including individuals at 1st Global?
- How Can I Get Them to Feel Comfortable? – You are looking to create a “fireside chat” environment. Some suggestions include hosting a hospitality brunch at a nice venue, tea at a country club or a cooking class at a culinary institute.
- How Do I Keep Interest and Participation Up? – You can start by creating a short series of events that cover different topics that would interest women. It’s also important to follow up after the event with ideas, books, websites or articles that relate to the topics discussed.
Taking the time to carefully develop and nurture these events will be great learning and sharing opportunities for advisors and clients.
Harold “Skip” Briggs, Jr. CPA/PFS, CFP® is partner and managing director and Kim DeAngelis is office manager for Bentley Wealth Advisors, LLC in Warwick, Rhode Island. Bentley Wealth Advisors is a multi-disciplined wealth management firm servicing the needs of carefully selected groups of individuals, families and business owners. You can find more information about Bentley Wealth Advisors, LLC at the company’s website: www.bentleywealth.com.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.