Traditionally women have always taken the back seat and played a ‘’supporting’’ role; however, times have changed and the earlier we accept this reality the better. Gone are the days when the man made all the money while the woman sat at home, took care of the kids and cleaned the house. Nowadays, the number of ‘breadwinner wives’ – women in relationships who earn more than or at least the same as their partners, has increased significantly and this trend is not without its own issues. This trend represents one of the biggest and most significant social shift of our time, with far-reaching implications for personal relationships, family lives and more importantly for brands who want to sell successfully to this portion of the population who account for half of the entire global population.
Nowadays, women are earning and controlling more money than ever. There’s currently a huge transference of wealth to women and the reasons as not far-fetched. More women are earning degrees and widening their skills sets and it is not uncommon to find women in high earning professions which were only previously occupied by men. Also, more women are delaying getting married and having children which allow them significantly more time to concentrate on their careers and ultimately rise through the ranks more quickly.
However, when it comes to finance and women offerings, here is what is wrong, what has always been wrong with equating the banking needs of women with packages that help them pay for luxury items such as diamonds, designer shoes and fancy getaways in exotic locations across the world. Is this really what women want?
Not only is this a gross misrepresentation of today’s woman, it is also demeaning to think that the needs of women carry less significance than those of the menfolk and therefore reduced to the acquisition of material things. In fact, a Boston Consulting Group survey of more than 12,000 women from 21 countries found that of all the industries that affect their daily lives, women feel most dissatisfied with the financial services industry, on a product and service level. The survey also revealed that women also reported a strong willingness to switch to a bank that would understand them better. This translates to real costs for banks failing to deliver an empathic understanding of women’s unique situations and needs in running their homes and businesses.
Knowing these, how then can banks sell effectively to women? The first step in meeting the financial needs of women is understanding the basic motivation and the fundamental differences between how men and women regard money. For women, money is about relationships and how they can use money to take care of themselves, share it or give it away. For many women, it’s not just about becoming “rich.” They care about having enough money to live a life of quality and meaning. Money provides women not only with security, but with more and better choices and for lots of women especially those of lower economic status, having the power of choice could literally mean the difference between life and death.
The key to banks effectively serving women in business is to take into account their needs in their approach to service delivery. This should not be interpreted as needing to offer distinct, different service offerings for women, but to develop a customer-orientated approach to service delivery on a holistic basis, ensuring that needs that are specific to women are taken into account – in other words applying a ‘gender-lens’ to service methodology.
When buying financial products, women tend to cautiously look into options and seek education before making a decision. Unlike men, most women do not want to do financial planning on their own. They learn first, and then seek an advisor. They are comfortable seeking advice and they value an advisor’s guidance. Banks need to take cognizance of this when selling to women and not focus on the traditional approach of just pushing products at women.
There is also the case of the classic woman entrepreneur who struggles to find financing for her business. Women entrepreneurs represent a very profitable and financially engaged segment, with an even more specific set of needs that have traditionally been ignored. According to a 2014 Goldman Sachs report, women-owned SMEs represent an untapped potential market for banks of approximately $235bn. So why, in so many aspects of banking, haven’t women’s needs been prioritized? And how can the financial services industry cater more effectively to women entrepreneurs?
When women trust an institution, they’re often eager to place more of their business, personal and enterprise, with that organization. Research found that women SME owners place high value on being treated with respect as businesspeople, and that they view their banking business beyond just transactional terms. Providing a holistic suite of services such as platforms for personal and business financial management makes it easier and more convenient for women to manage their finances in one place. This in turn increases the chances that the financial institution will become the ‘primary bank’ for their women customers, whose increased loyalty makes them more open to seeking additional services.
Women are open to advice and will admit that they don’t know about financial planning much more readily than men. They are more open to learning and are a great “word-of-mouth population. Statistics have also shown us that women are less likely to apply for funding than men, so banks must ensure their funding access efforts reflect what can be a more cautious attitude to risk. This is why banks that offer more than the traditional service of cash and deposit will continue to lead the pack in servicing women.
Take for instance the Diamond Woman proposition designed specifically for women. The proposition’s main objective is to offer meaningful solutions to the financial, business and lifestyle needs of every woman and enhance her banking experience. It is a value adding proposition that potential and existing female customers of Diamond Bank can benefit from regardless of their account type. The main thrust of the proposition is geared towards financial and non-financial advisory services targeted at women at different stages of their lives. The proposition also offers a one of its kind interactive online community where women can share experiences, initiate and contribute to meaningful conversations that affect their everyday lives. It is a rich resource centre on lifestyle, health, family and sound business advice offered by experts and other entrepreneurs in the industry.
Although, women have traditionally been dissatisfied with financial services companies, there’s a huge opportunity to win new businesses from women looking for a better experience. Financial institutions who do an outstanding job for their female clients are going to have a huge competitive advantage moving forward.
Please share your thoughts with us on our online community dedicated specifically for women; www.diamondwoman.com.