But there are other subtle differences that sometimes help a woman fare better with a female adviser. "I think some women are more comfortable because of issues related to trust and communication, rightly or wrongly," says Laura Lindsey, a former financial adviser and finance associate professor at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
Of course, there are presumably plenty of male financial advisers who disagree that women have a better handle on building relationships with clients. But if you're a male investor who sides with the female advisers on this point, you might want to consider using a female financial adviser yourself, suggests Mary Ellen Garrett, a senior vice president of investments at Merrill Lynch and the managing partner of the Garrett Group, a team of financial advisers in Atlanta.
"Whether they're men or women, advisers build one-on-one relationships that are founded on trust," Garrett says. But she concedes that women seem to have a better grasp on communication skills in discussing money. "Sometimes it's an ego thing, where if you've made a mistake in your financial life, it can be easier for a male to open up about that with a female," Garrett says.
Be pragmatic. Kimberly Clouse, a wealth adviser for 20 years based in Boston, points out that it isn't realistic for every female investor to have a female financial adviser. "Women control over half the wealth in the country, but women don't compromise half of the advisers, so only women working with women, it isn't feasible," Clouse says.
And while Finerman and other financial advisers are probably right – some women would be better off seeking out a female financial adviser – other considerations should come into play when choosing someone to manage your finances rather than whether a professional has a Y chromosome or not.
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"Rather than gender, I would be interested in whether or not the adviser works with other clients like me," Clouse says, citing examples such as whether you're an entrepreneur or if you inherited your wealth.
In fact, she says, "Women working only with women can create a 'pink ghetto,' of sorts, separate but not equal."
In a perfect world, Clouse says, an investor will expose herself or himself to a lot of different viewpoints from both genders.
And sometimes women seek out men to be their financial advisers, not because they feel more comfortable having a man making the decisions for them, but for completely different reasons. "I know of a couple women who are in the process of getting a divorce, and they made it clear they specifically wanted a financial adviser who was a man," says Clouse. "They said they wanted to work with a male – so they could tell him what to do."