HOLLYWOOD, FLA. - The two Monday morning sessions at the Bank Insurance & Securities Association’s  annual conference were billed as “Market Perspectives” and they lived up to the name. The first one, “Insight & Understanding for Today’s Markets” was delivered by Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist of Prudential Annuities. She focused on macro issues, specifically monetary policy and jobs.

The second session, “Selling Financial Services to Women and Couples” was from Holly Buchanan, CEO of Buchanan Marketing. She spoke.

In the earlier session, Krosby noted that the economy is still in uncharted territory even as the Fed continues its quantitative easing plans. With the unemployment rate at 7.9%, we’re still above the Fed’s goal of 6.5%. She noted that even if it does fall to 6.5%, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has cautioned market observers that the Fed will not immediately exit the market. On the Fed’s zeal for buying bonds, she quipped:  “I think [Bernanke] would buy James Bond if he thought it would help.

Turning serious, she noted that the new array of financial products are being sold successfully because of the worldwide “scavenger hunt” for yield. But they also use leverage and she warns that people are losing sight of that fact.

As stocks continue to do well, she cautioned advisors to help protect clients from a potential decline in the future. “Understand that the higher these markets go, the more you need to protect on the downside because you don’t want to be running out the door along with everyone else” when things turn sour, she said. And after describing Washington as a dysfunctional mess, she noted: “If you don’t protect [clients], nobody in Wash D.C. will be there to do the job.”

The second session on woman and couples started with a potentially very good piece of news for advisors, especially bank advisors. Holly Buchanan said that as women are earning more than ever before, and graduating college at rates that surpass men, almost two thirds of them (60%) feel that their bank could be a one-stop financial shop for them.

She then went through several products and detailed why women were good possible customers. On long term care insurance, she said that while men take a “won’t happen to me” attitude and essentially ignore it, women are much more attuned to not becoming a burden on family members.

But they also want much more detailed conversations from their advisors. And they will ask many more questions of them, Buchanan said. As a joke, she compared the consumer purchase of shampoo. One pie chart illustrating a woman’s buying decision and was colored by a dozen slices, each connected to a different consideration. The men’s chart was all one color (black) with only one consideration, namely that “it says shampoo.”

And they shop for financial advice the same way, she says, with women seeking more information.

As for questions asked by the advisors, she says they need to be framed in new ways to get the needed information. As just one example, she says advisors should not ask “what do you do” but rather “who are the most important people in your life” and “what are your responsibilities” to get a more complete picture of their life and their needs. 

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