A Conversation with RIA Heather R. Ettinger on Financial Life Planning for Women
Heather R. Ettinger is Managing Partner at Fairport Asset Management, a firm now celebrating 49 years as a registered investment advisor. For more than 25 years, Heather has dedicated her career to helping women build their financial acumen and wealth through both her professional practice and her community involvement. As part of our May blog series that focuses on the importance of women in financial services and investing, Heather agreed to sit down and answer a few questions for us.
Tell us about yourself. How did you get where you are today professionally?
When I entered the industry in the early 80s it was clearly a much underserved market where I could make a difference. In 1990, I co-founded Women Managing Money, an educational series for women designed to increase financial literacy and socially responsible giving. Today, I continue the journey into empowering women around their wealth to benefit themselves, their family and their community.
Tell us about your practice and who you serve.
At Fairport, we serve Family Business Owners, Executives and Women in Transition, which is our largest practice group. Specifically, our main focus is Executive Women in Transition, Widows and Divorces. We have developed unique service models and deliverables for each group based on our experience of “getting in their shoes” and truly understanding their unique needs and circumstances.
What trends are you seeing in serving the financial and investing needs of women?
Women want to be understood for their unique circumstances and their entire life picture. They also want an authentic relationship as opposed to being sold product. But many of these financial institutions simply take what they already do and “change the font to pink.” As a result, women are very dissatisfied with the financial service industry, which talks a lot about women’s services when in fact no meaningful changes in the way the services are delivered have been made.
So, what do women want?
They prefer a more comprehensive approach as evidenced by their preference for the wealth manager model 2 to 1 over other models. Secondly, they believe that advisors need to treat each person within a marriage or a domestic partnership as an individual with distinct needs and interests. And thirdly, they want an advisor with a proven capacity to listen and communicate. So, the trend we’ll see is that the best advisors will achieve success by developing unique education programs, services and deliverables tailored to specific characteristics of niche markets within the women’s market.
Do you see any difference in how women approach their money versus men when it comes to planning and investing?
While I don’t like to generalize for all women, there are a few key differences. First, women will do more due diligence on their providers as they are looking for services beyond just investment management. Second, they seek advisors who are collaborative and more holistic in their approach more often than men do. Thus women often value the planning as much or more than investment results. And most importantly, whereas men are more often focused on the product, women seek advisors who value them for their unique circumstances and will be sure to educate them to make good decisions tailored to their personal situation.
Do you have any tips for women considering a career in financial services?
We need you! I believe that if we get more women in the industry we will see acceleration in more holistic planning, which tends to lead to clients making better decisions. This is not just about women working with women, it is about women leading social change in behaviors in our industry, both as advisors and clients, which they have done in our culture for centuries!
Interested in learning more about Heather’s firm’s unique way in serving women, what she considers the biggest hurdle in serving women versus men, or some of the challenges she faced personally in her career? Drop us a comment and let us know if you’d like to read another blog about it.
Heather R. Ettinger and Fairport Asset Management are not employed or affiliated with Charles Schwab and Co, Inc.
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