Working women who also double as mothers and/or caregivers need to realize they can ask for help from partners and other family members, especially during the difficult times of COVID-19. Doing so, according to speakers at an Advocis Toronto webinar for International Women’s Day, will also make these women better financial advisors and co-workers.
“It’s OK to take off our Superwoman capes,” said Heidi Rumohr, an insurance consultant with LTCI Consulting Inc. “I think for so long I’ve worn that cape as a badge of honour. Look at me: I can do it all.”
But Rumohr acknowledged there are times when she does need help from her husband and others, a practice, she suggested, that should be extended to advisors in how they handle different aspects of their businesses.
One is teaching their clients how to stand on their own, a situation which will be positive for both clients and advisors.
Empowering women with their finances
“I really believe in empowering women especially with their finances, which includes a proper financial plan. I believe that we don’t need to do it all ourselves, we can bring in experts, we can teach our clients to put on their own oxygen masks first, but if they need help in other areas that’s your opportunity to partner with other people. “
Acknowledging the need for help will help cement the client-advisor relationship, said Jennifer Jacobs, a certified financial planner and long-term care and living benefits specialist with LTCI Consulting Inc.
“Being a point of contact for a client is like being a psychologist or a psychiatrist: you can be part of their help network and a dependent source for that,” said Jacobs. “Nourish that relationship. When you talk to your clients over the next few months ask them where they’re at, and never bring up the topic of selling something. That alone will help you propel your business in the long run, in my opinion.”
In many cases women have not been part of marital financial planning and if there is a divorce or the partner dies, it’s women who are going to need to major help from a financial advisor, said Jacobs.
Connecting with potential clients
One of the best ways advisors can connect with potential clients is through their websites, said Rumohr. Online viewership at the LTCI website “has gone through the roof,” meaning people are craving attention and advisors who don’t have an online presence are missing out.
She also suggested to advisors that they put together a networking webinar, talking about all aspects of health and living benefits, such as long-term care insurance, disability and critical illness. While there are people who are still asking about life insurance in the wake of COVID-19, many more want information on other products to keep them financially alive.
Talking about income and debt
Rumohr said it’s still taboo to talk to potential clients about how much money they make and how much debt they have. She said she feels that talking about income and debt are very personal and vulnerable for some people. “But I’ll tell you this: when I do have those conversations with my clients very early on and I tell them that I can help them with their cash flow and their debt and their finances, they open up and we connect like magic.”
The dynamics around the world have changed in so many different ways in the last year, meaning advisors have to change as well, said Jacobs. Making even small tweaks and shifts can make major differences to the lives of clients.
Right now, many people are scared and are keeping their money in cash, a situation she characterized as a lost opportunity what with low interest rates bringing in only one per cent on some guaranteed investment certificates.
Jacobs said this is where a certified financial planner comes in, fine tuning where some cash is put to positively change the financial status of clients as they go through changes in family structure and medical advances and require living benefits.
While men are living a few years longer now than they did previously, at least some of that time will require the help of a caregiver, she said. There are statistical indicators that can help advisors plan, recognizing that care giving isn’t free.
Debt is up among Canadians. Statistics Canada reported at the end of December that Canadian households owed an average of $1.71 for every dollar of disposable income during the third quarter of 2020. Household debt as a percentage of disposable income rose to 170.7 per cent, up from 162.8 per cent in the second quarter.
But Jacobs said debt isn’t inherently bad – people just have to realize that it’s not a financial instrument. What she finds most troublesome is the volume of debt people are in when they are heading into years where both income is going to be reduced and the ability to bring in more income is reduced.