Adri Miller-Heckman is a speaker, author, and consultant, as well as a leading expert on women and financial services. In her book, Keys to the Ladies’ Room, she outlines the femXadvisor model—a strategy for attracting female clients and garnering more referrals.
Today on Stay Paid, Adri explains how you can get more clients—and keep them—by knowing your why.
- When you know your ideal client, your marketing message will be that much more effective.
- By understanding the differences between male and female clients, advisors can create a better experience for everyone.
- It’s not enough to know that you want to help people—you should also understand who you want to help and why.
Q: Introduce yourself to our audience.
I was always an athlete, but what I learned early on was that I didn’t like individual sports. When I was in a tennis tournament and the woman on the other side was losing, I’d give her advice. But when I found volleyball, I loved helping the other five women on my team. Coaching women became my goal.
After working in other industries, I entered the financial industry. When I went through my training for Smith Barney [now Morgan Stanley Wealth Management], I knew I wanted to help women like my mom. It wasn’t that my mother wasn’t capable of understanding—it was that she couldn’t learn about investing the same way as my dad.
Most advisors will do business with anyone who can fog a mirror. But, when you have a purpose behind your business, you’ll grow a brand that precedes you wherever you go. I focused on the women’s market from day one—hosting seminars geared toward women.
Within my first year of production, my husband moved 3,000 miles away. I was building a business while raising three children. What allowed me to succeed? No question: it was my focus on women.
Q: What were the differences between the way women learned and the way men learned?
In my mom and dad’s case, my dad was always really good about investing. He encouraged my mom to be involved, because he knew he’d pass away and she’d need to be there. I give him credit for that. But, because she couldn’t understand the concepts of yield and PE ratio—which she didn’t even need to know—she left feeling stupid and incapable. As a young woman, this impacted me.
Years later, when I had entered the financial industry, my mother called me out of the blue and said she wanted to switch to another advisor. She said her advisor, who was a woman, never talked to her. I gave her the name of another advisor at Merrill-Lynch, and she’s been with him ever since. He speaks her language. He gives her the attention she needs. He’s patient and kind.
Boston Financial had a statistic that 70 percent of women who lose a spouse will leave their advisor. Women are a massive market, and they’re only getting bigger. It’s not about just attracting women—it’s about retaining them. There are so many men who come to me and say they have a natural way of working with women. What would happen if they intentionally focused on women?
One of the reasons why my mother asked for another advisor was because she knew what I did. Had I not been in this role, she might never have said anything. Men, especially, need to learn how to communicate better with women.
Q: What kind of ideas do you give to male advisors looking to make connections with women?
Regardless of your industry, you need to know your story. A lot of people say they like working with women. I say, “Put up or shut up.” Show me what you do differently. What inspired you to want to make changes in your business that would accommodate women? For me, it was the story of my mom. That validated my intentions and built trust faster. I use that story every time I talk to a man.
Before long, men became my greatest referral source. They referred me to every woman they knew that needed help.
Q: Tell us about femXadvisor.
The model that I created is a new age model for growing a business. It works beautifully for women, for female advisors, and for men who are tired of the old model. Male clients love it, too.
This approach incorporates the old ideas with a more balanced and progressive slant. It takes a lot more introspection. It means uncovering “What’s my why?” We all have stories, but we’re so caught up in the technical aspects that we forget why we do what we do.
Q: Which marketing approaches do you suggest to your clients?
We have 12 keys to success for creating a female-friendly practice. Think of it as 12 keys in 12 months. The first quarter is all about uncovering your message, as well as your tribal market.
Ultimately, we connect with people who we like. What makes us like someone? I ask advisors to make lists of the things they don’t like in a client. Then, they write the words that are opposite.
Here’s why this is so important: when you can determine the personality of the person you like to work with, your message is going to be killer. Everything you put out will be more marketable. Most important, your message will be so unique and compelling that everyone will want to listen. And then they’ll ask you questions. Your message will stick.
The first three months is your tribal market, story, and message. The next three months is about how you’re going to launch your message. We’ll look at your strengths and determine the best strategy. Women thrive in a community setting, so events tend to be a really great source of attracting clients. It’s about getting women to think, do, and explore.
Think of a Rubix Cube. That’s the male brain. If you notice, all the boxes don’t touch. They can all be moved independently. When a man is in the sports box, he’s in the sports box. His work box is the work box. When you ask a group of women if they’d love to have that focus, they’ll all raise their hands. Our brains do not stop.
So, the moment we walk into your office, we are picking up information. We’re looking at the décor, how you treat someone, and the photos you have out. Our brains pick up data, and that’s how we make decisions. If you say you focus on women, you need to show in multiple ways how you focus on women.
When a woman walks into your business, what is she seeing? Is it black leather chairs and board room tables, or is it white cottage walls and zebra-striped upholstery. Since men don’t really care about the décor, you’re better off shifting the décor toward women.
Q: Tell us about the kinds of content that empowers women.
In order to become empowered, people need to learn. But there’s a difference between challenging women to think and making them feel small. One of our programs provides advisors with engaging email content that they can use in a drip campaign. These ideas are short and sweet. For example, “If your husband passed away today, what would be your three biggest concerns?” It’s about asking them questions that get them to think.
I recommend Barbara Stanning’s book, Overcoming Underearning. It’s important to give women what they need to enter this uncomfortable arena.
Q: What’s next for your business?
My goal is to change the industry from being male-focused to a more balanced environment. The only way to get this to happen is to get firms on board. A firm that says they support this model will be able to recruit more women.
Q: Which routines have driven success for you?
If I don’t love what I’m doing, it’s not going to work. Don’t just say that you want to help people. Who do you want to help, and why? I’ve never felt like I was grinding it out—only at the jobs that I’ve quit. When I felt conflicted, I started my own coaching practice.
- Know your story, and know your why. Write down why you’re doing what you’re doing.
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