Effective Discovery and Women Investors

John Nersesian, Head of Advisor Education, and Mary Hoppe, SVP Account Manager discuss the importance of client discovery and offer effective tips for working with women investors.

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Nersesian: Hi. I’m John Nersesian, head of advisor education at PIMCO. And today, I’m joined by my friend and colleague Mary Hoppe, a senior vice president with PIMCO, and an account manager working directly with financial advisors.     

So, Mary, tell us a little bit about some of your experiences around this really important issue of discovery.

Hoppe: Well, first of all, John, the engagement that financial advisors have with clients today has changed a lot over the many years. It has changed from one of a transaction and access and lots of information, to one of helping folks achieve an outcome, helping them get to some destination in a safe and comfortable way. And so, what that means is along the way, advisors are doing more planning, they're spending a whole lot more time getting to know their clients above and beyond the facts and figures. They're trying to get down to their values, and their hopes and dreams, and importantly, their fears. Because until you get the fears addressed, you can’t work on all those other things.   

Nersesian: I love your references. What keeps you awake at night? What are the one or two things in this world that you’d like me to help you accomplish? I think those kinds of relationships are meaningful to both women and men as investors.    

Hoppe: And women investors today make up most of the investing public. Women control over 50 percent of this country’s wealth today. Two out of five businesses are run by women, so this notion of being heard and being listened to is very important to establish trust quickly with women. But women do have some obstacles, too, such as the research that PIMCO did on women, tells us that most of the women we surveyed feel that our industry is complicated by design. That’s a deterrent to working with a financial advisor. So the good advisors, who are good at discovery, tend to build that trust quicker.

Nersesian: Complexity, I think one of the greatest things an advisor can do is to take what’s really complicated and to make it simple. We’re all time-stressed, males and females. We’re all looking for people to help us make better outcomes and decisions, but also to make our lives better and more manageable. And I’d like to think a relationship with a great advisor can help us accomplish that.    

Hoppe: Right, and that discovery skill helps that happen. Women, as our research showed us, women tend to be doing more today than they ever have outside of the home, while still managing a lot in the home. So they're time-deprived. And the jargon we tend to use in our business can sometimes intimidate folks, as you mentioned before. And when it comes to the things that they value, it’s really important for women to know that their investments are impactful to their values that they hold dear. And so, oftentimes these three things coming together — time deprivation, doing too much, being fearful, they tend to be obstacles to get in the way of what women want to accomplish. And so, an advisor who’s good at uncovering those things with a client has a better chance of keeping that client for a long time.           

Nersesian: Those are great observations. As financial advisors, we assume that our primary function is dealing with financial decisions, helping people figure out how to save for retirement, how to minimize taxes, how to improve their financial results as well. They certainly want competent advice, but they also want to work with people who care about them.

I think it’s really important that in a conversation with a partnership, that we engage both partners, even if they're not necessarily as interested financially, they're both active participants, and our ability to help engage them in that process is critical as well.

Hoppe: Absolutely, and what I’ve seen with the advisors that I work with — they're realizing that when it comes to that discovery process in the beginning, they need to sit with both the parties of the relationship, and those people need to be heard and understood.

And that’s, again, where that discovery comes into play. And boy, if you can address those things, then you build trust.

And that’s really what this is all about, is building trust.

Nersesian: Yeah, I like that concept of trust. If I demonstrate that I’m good at what I do, that I’m competent to provide the kind of advice that will help you make the important decisions in your life, and I’ve also demonstrated that I care about you, and things that are important to you, that’s the kind of relationship that I suspect is more enduring.

Hoppe: Right. Exactly.

Nersesian: Well, Mary, thanks so much for your time. I hope our viewers enjoyed our conversation today. I’d like to remind all of you that PIMCO has done significant work in this area, and we’d like to encourage you to reach out directly to your account manager or to visit us at www dot PIMCO dot com for more information.


The survey results contain the opinions of the respondents and not necessarily those of PIMCO. The data contained within the report may not be related to any PIMCO product or strategy and should not be relied upon for any investment decision. 

Expert Salon

In March and April 2018, we conducted expert salons in Newport Beach and New York City to capture ideas from thought leaders in women’s perspectives on investing, lifestyle and goals across media, finance and communications.

Financial Decision Maker Survey

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of PIMCO from May 3 – May 16, 2018 among 1,500 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, including 748 women. All respondents had over $10,000 in investable household assets and at least some financial decision-making responsibility within the household. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. In March 2018, we also hosted 2 salon sessions to explore issues around women and investing with thought leaders, influencers and experts.

PIMCO does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult your tax and/or legal counsel for specific tax or legal questions and concerns. PIMCO as a general matter provides services to qualified institutions, financial intermediaries and institutional investors. Individual investors should contact their own financial professional to determine the most appropriate investment options for their financial situation. This material contains the opinions of the manager and such opinions are subject to change without notice. This material has been distributed for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission. PIMCO is a trademark of Allianz Asset Management of America L.P. in the United States and throughout the world. Pacific Investment Management Company LLC, 650 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660, 800-387-4626. ©2020, PIMCO.



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