Engaging women

Make a market correction.

40% of women feel overlooked by advisors.1

Be inclusive, grow your business.

Get your toolkit

Make a market correction.

40% of women feel overlooked by advisors.1

Be inclusive, grow your business.

Get your toolkit

The opportunity

Women have more money and influence than ever before.

  • By 2028 Canadian women will control $4 trillion in assets2
  • Women are the recipients of a double wealth transfer3
  • Women are the breadwinners in more than 40% of Canadian households4

That’s a big opportunity for your practice. Taking the time to understand women’s unique needs and concerns can help you benefit from this growing market. Women are 2.5 times more likely to refer than men.4 Loyal women Clients have the potential to grow a strong Client base. 

Still, the financial services industry - and many advisors within it - can fall short of engaging women effectively. 

Many women feel that advisors treat them differently than men because of stereotypes, biases and misconceptions.5 Women say they feel patronized, ignored or dismissed and unable to find an advisor that they can connect with.1, 6

In fact, 1 in 3 women switch advisors following a negative experience based on their gender.7 And 80% of women will leave their advisor within 18 months of becoming a widow.8

It’s time for change. 

It’s time that we adapt and tailor our approach to engage and connect with women. 

By connecting with women and delivering positive experiences, you can create Clients for life and become a more inclusive advisor.

Winning with women, part II. New York Life Investments, 2020. Webinar.
The Changing Landscape of Women’s Wealth< CIBC Economics, 2019
Gaining perspective on women in wealth transfer and overall wealth planning, RBC Wealth Management, 2017
Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report The Economic Well-Being of Women in Canada, Stats Canada, 2018
Female Clients more likely than men to make referrals, Investment News, 2012
Strategy Marketing, Advisors are failing women, 2015
Seeing the Unseen. The role gender plays in wealth management. Merrill A bank of America Company. 2020
Jill Fopiano, “Why many women won’t talk about money and how to get past it” Market Watch, July 2018.​

Advisors - both men and women - make an average of 10 miscues every 30 minutes when engaging women Clients.1 That contributes to 1 in 3 women feeling patronized by financial advisors - talked down to and even pushed out of financial conversations.2

Below are some of the most frequent miscues advisors make, as well as 3 steps you can use to address any unconscious biases you might have. 

The most frequent gender miscues: 

  • Focusing attention on the male 
    • Advisors focus their gaze on the male over 60% of the time when meeting with heterosexual couples.2
  • Assuming men are the decision makers
  • Assuming that a couple’s finances are joint
  • Assuming that women are more risk-averse
  • Assuming that women are less knowledgeable about investing

3 steps to overcome biases: 

  1. Accept we all have biases. Throughout our lives we are inundated with messages from numerous sources.  These messages can lead us to develop unconscious biases over time. 
  2. Identify your own biases. The more we become aware of our biases, the better we are at overcoming them.
    Test your bias with Harvard’s Implicit Association Test
  3. Make change a priority. Take action to avoid miscues and biases. Small steps go a long way, such as proactively making eye contact with both partners in any couple and making sure to divide your attention equally.

Biases and wrong assumptions can lead to bad experiences for women - and for all Clients. And it’s beneficial to everyone when we work against them.

Women are more likely to recommend an advisor when they’re happy. They’re also significantly more likely to switch financial advisors after a bad experience.1 But prioritizing what women look for in an advisor creates a positive Client experience and helps grow stronger relationships and new prospects.

1Seeing the Unseen. The role gender plays in wealth management. Merrill A bank of America Company. 2020

2New York Life Investments study, 2020 

Women’s motivations, perspectives, priorities, and communication styles differ from those of men.

We asked women what they’re looking for in an advisor. Here’s what they told us. 

Top 5 qualities women want in an advisor

Attract, retain and engage couples and women by emphasizing these in your business.  

  1. Practice active listening & clear communication 
    • Listen with the intent to understand rather than respond
    • Use simple language and avoid jargon.
    • Address Client concerns first 

  2. Tip: 
    share What’s on your mind – identifying your financial concerns with Clients to help them identify immediate and future concerns.

  3. Deliver personal connection and personalized advice
    • See and treat female Clients as individuals 
    • View every interaction as a chance to deepen the relationship  

  4. Refer to A Guide to a deeper Client discovery to learn more about building trust on a human level and uncovering what Clients value most. 

  5. Empower financial confidence  
    • Deliver financial education 
    • Guide and empower financial decision making 

  6. Tip: 
    Consider hosting a seminar for women. Check out our webinars in a box and download "Financial considerations for women". 

  7. Present a holistic view of a Client’s finances  
    • Discuss money in terms of what it can do for their family
    • Create a plan that aligns to Client goals and objectives
    • Help Clients visualize their future, and feel confident and in control financially. 

  8. Don’t waste time  
    • Make the most out of everyone’s time by setting expectations upfront and following through.

    Tip: refer to the Client engagement process to learn how to build your own process and communicate it to Clients.  

    Tip: refer to the Meeting agenda template to learn how to lead productive meetings and show Clients that you value their time.

To communicate your value to women, and effectively prospect, it’s important to first identify the groups of women you work with and then define the goals that are often important to those groups. Ensure your value proposition and business practices reflect your target Client and promote! Let them know you want to work with them by demonstrating that you understand their priorities. 

There are four over-arching segments of women you’re likely to work with; young professionals, married breadwinner or contributor, business owners, and the suddenly single. 

This guide will highlight some effective ideas to prospect and deepen relationships with each of these segments.



Primary objective

5 activities to engage your target Client segment

Young professionals

Single millennial women

Growing literacy

  • Take the Build a Millennial-Friendly Practice assessment to evaluate your potential to attract millennial Clients.
  • Share Financial Planning for Young Professionals to uncover their financial goals and priorities.
  • Take the time to educate. This can enhance their financial confidence and empower decision-making.
  • Host an educational webinar or seminar for Clients and prospects. Examples – Financial planning for young professionals or Finance 101.
  • Be active on social media. Example – post articles and resources on topics such as how to pay off debt or purchasing a first home.


Check out Working with Millennials to learn more.

Married breadwinner or contributor

Women who represent the primary source of income for the household, or whose primary contributions tend to be non-financial.

Holistic planning

  • Determine the important people in the Client’s life and build a family tree.
  • Uncover what matters most to each partner and align priorities by sharing the What’s on your mind – identifying your financial concerns checklist.
  • Share Important money talks to have with your family to help encourage these important conversations.
  • Host an educational webinar or seminar for Clients and prospects. Examples – Retirement planning or legacy planning.
  • Be active on social media. Example – post articles and resources on topics such as how to manage finances in an equal partnership or how to raise money smart kids.


To learn more about connecting with and engaging both partners in the conversation, check out the 3 simple steps to working with couples.

Business Owner

Women entrepreneurs who own their own business

Growing their business

  • Read Bolstering the Balance Sheet. This whitepaper examines how permanent life insurance helps enhance a corporate balance sheet by minimizing tax burdens and enhancing liquidity.
  • Share the Business Planning Overview to start conversations for every stage of their business growth.
  • Help Clients plan an organized, tax efficient transfer of their business and personal assets with the Estate Planning Guide for Business Owners
  • Host an educational webinar or seminar for Clients and prospects. Examples – Lunch and learn for small business owners or tax planning for small businesses.
  • Be active on social media. Example – post articles and resources targeted to female business owners and entrepreneurs.


Checkout Working with Business Owners to learn more.

Suddenly Single


Women who have been recently separated, divorced or widowed

Ensuring independence

  • Help maintain independence by reviewing the current plan and ensure important details are up to date using the Executor reference guide.
  • Share the Helping you plan to age with dignity checklist and plan for future changing healthcare needs.
  • Consider furthering your education and skillset by acquiring a CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) designation.
  • Host an educational webinar or seminar for Clients and prospects. Examples – financial independence or estate planning.
  • Be active on social media. Example – post articles and resources targeted to widows or divorcees.


Check out Lumino Health for overall health and wellbeing resources and share with Clients who might need support.

Communicate your value

  1. Identify your target audience
    Do you tend to work with women from one of these segments more than the others? What are their goals? Do they have a specific need or obstacle they are trying to overcome? 
  2. Align your value
    What value do you bring to that segment of women? What can they expect from working with you? How do you plan to remove their obstacles or help them achieve their goals? Align your value proposition, including your brand message, Client engagement process, and marketing strategies with the needs of your target segment.  Consistency in all your messaging is a powerful way to deepen your value proposition. 
  3. Communicate your value
    Are you communicating your brand in alignment with the values above? Update your online presence to reflect the segment of women you are targeting. Some examples could include creating a section of your website specifically for women, posting relevant articles on social media and including women in your advertising. Also, be sure to gather testimonials and recommendations from happy women Clients and share with your networks.  

Learn more about creating and communicating your brand visit Defining your brand.

80% of Canadian women change advisors within a year of their husband’s death. Sue Foley a certified Financial Planner talks about how she navigates the death of a Client and what makes her successful.

Advisor Heather Borelli shares how she empowered a Client to take control of her finances after divorce.

Advisor Heather Borelli shares how to build relationships with both partners in a couple.

Advisors Laurent Munier and Robert Trasolini share how to engage both partners in the conversation and why it's important.

Advisors Laurent Munier and Robert Trasolini share the benefits of engaging both partners. 

Let’s look more closely at why connecting with female Clients is important – to you and them.

Get the toolkit and unlock strategies to engage every Client in front of you – and their loved ones.

Get your toolkit

Engage couples effectively with 3 simple steps.

Deliver personalized advice with Client checklists and meeting agenda templates.

Support holistic planning with a Client guide on important money talks to have with their families.


Contact your Sun Life relationship manager to learn more about this program and the resources available to you.