May 18, 2021
How to Attract Women Clients?  

Dr. Shine Lei is one of few individuals to have a CFP ® certification in both the U.S. and China. In the webinar, “How to Attract Women Clients?” Dr. Lei shares her research and insight on working with women clients.   

Her career began as a trained typical corporate finance professional during the financial crisis of 2008. After the crisis, she reconsidered her career path to be a financial planner. In China, the CFP ® Board was recruiting financial planners, interested in the idea, Dr. Lei joined them and had her eyes opened to a different world. “It’s part of the finance world, but from a different angle. It’s working with the individual investors directly rather than the corporates,” she said when reflecting on her time working on the board. She said she worked with many professionals on the board and wanted to know if financial planners can add value to the client’s investor performance. To find her answer, Dr. Lei moved to join the University of Missouri in the U.S. 

Why Are Women Important in Financial Planning?

Based on her research, the increasing wealth of women are making the role of women in financial planning more important and relevant every day. “Women are more and more independent in their investment decision-making, which means they are not relying on their own judgment but also become the dominant role in household financial decisions,” Dr. Lei said. 

What Are Some of the Characteristics of Women Clients?

Her co-authored research found that women more likely to use financial planning services are more likely to share these characteristics: wealthy, well-educated, and financially literate. As progressive society sees more women earning careers, they are also becoming more financially literate. 

Interestingly, Dr. Lei said she didn’t find women have a gender preference with their planners. However, she noted, women planners remain to be underrepresented as they only represent a small fraction of financial planners within the industry and are paid less. 

The host, Dr. Chia-Li Chien noted the majority of her clients are women or the women are the dominant partner in the relationship. She also noticed the general characteristics of a woman being nurturing, sensitive, and detail-orientated are great characteristics to have as a financial planner when working with clients as it is a sensitive topic. 

“Women clients are more likely to go to women planners especially for divorce planning,” said Dr. Lei. “I think it is because women planners can relate more to the clients because of their natural features. I think they are more likely to attract women clients and be successful in the financial planning industry,” she said. 

How Can Financial Planners Market to Women Clients?

Dr. Lei said the following tips are important for marketing for both female and male clients as financial planning professionals.

“It’s a cliche but it’s also important to know your clients,” Dr. Lei said. Firstly, profile the women who are more likely to use the services i.e. wealthy, well-educated, and financially literate. “It’s helpful to target the right group of people to help you grow your business,” she said.

Secondly, use the right method to communicate with the women. “It’s critical to know how to speak to the audience using the right language and words. The goal is to ensure the message correlates with them but being relevant with respect to their values and beliefs,” Dr. Lei explained. 

Lastly, test and learn the techniques of communication. Why are your clients taking action and meeting you? Was it a discount? Recommendation? Likewise, why are your clients not taking action? It’s important to take note of the techniques that work effectively and those that don’t.  

How to Work with Women Clients Efficiently?

Dr. Lei suggested having a better understanding of relevant emotional behavioral factors.  “What emotions and social influences do you notice between the clients and the planners? Notice if you can share with clients your understanding and help them back to the correct financial planning path,” she said. By carefully understanding and placing detail, the client’s journey and the client’s experience of the journey can have adjustments made to improve the experience. 

Profile + Behaviour = Tailoring Business Model 

Placing the client profile with learned behaviors through conversation with them can identify the factors that are dominant and their buyers. E.g. Are they detail-orientated? Or do they prefer not seeing all the details and rather see the bigger picture? 

Advice to Future Planners About Working With Women Clients?

To close the webinar, Dr. Lei’s parting advice to others wanting to work with women clients is to “know your clients and practice your soft skills.” 

Dr Shine LeiAbout Shine Lei:

Shan (Shine) Lei, Ph.D., CFA, CFP® is an Assistant Professor of Finance at the Perdue School of Business, Salisbury University, and a member of the University System of Maryland. Before that, Shine worked as an Assistant Professor of Finance and Financial Economics at the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business, and West Texas A&M University under the Texas A&M University System. She served as the Director of International Relations at Financial Planning Standards Board China and had been an adviser at PwC before joining academia.

Whilst at academic institutions, Shine held the responsibility to teach undergraduate and graduate finance and financial planning courses both online and on campus. This instructional responsibility involved designing and developing course content and assessment tasks for students with various academic and work experience backgrounds.

Shine has been an active scholar in conducting research regarding investment decision-making, portfolio allocation, and retirement preparation. She has been published by the International Journal of Bank Marketing, Journal of Women & Aging, Journal of Personal Finance, Journal of Financial Planning, Journal of Financial Planning and Counseling, and Applied Economics Letters. She has presented her research at several national conferences. She is also a peer reviewer for several academic journals. Shine is a member of the CFP Board, CFA Institute, American Council on Consumers Interests, and Financial Planning Standards Board China. Shine holds Charted Financial Analyst and Certified Financial Planner (both in the U.S. and China) qualifications. She holds a Ph.D. in Personal Finance from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a master’s degree in International Economics, and a bachelor’s degree in Finance.

Chia-Li Chien, PhD, CFP®, PMP®About the Host:

Dr. Chia-Li Chien is a succession program director at Value Growth Institute, a succession consulting practice dedicated to helping business owners increase their firms’ equity value. Before her private consulting practice, she held several senior management positions in Fortune 500 companies. Dr. Chien is a director of the financial planning program at the School of Management at California Lutheran University. Dr. Chien is a frequent speaker about succession and retirement planning at national conferences and has published three award-winning books, including her most recent publication, “Enhancing Retirement Success Rates in the United States.” Dr. Chien serves on the boards of various national financial service associations. She holds a doctorate in financial planning and is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) as well as Project Management Professional (PMP®).

Rosie-7 (2)About the Author:

Rosie Baker graduated Magna Cum Laude from California Lutheran University in May 2021 with honors and departmental distinction. Her bachelor’s degree is in Communication emphasizing PR and Advertising, minoring in Creative Writing. In July 2020, she published her first book, Mirrors & Windows: Unlocking a New Framework to Envision Your Successwith New Degree Press.



Dr. Chien interviewed Dr. Shine Lei, CFA, CFP®, on “How to Attract Women Clients?” on May 18, 2021, at 1:00 pm PST.

Many financial planning practitioners like to work with women clients. As matter of fact, many planning firms are created by women and service only women. Women clients might be your target market. You might service and plan for women. In this session, we will discuss the following questions:

  • Why are women important in financial planning?
  • What are some characteristics of women as clients?
  • What are some characteristics of women as planners?
  • How do we market to women clients?
  • How to work with women clients efficiently?


Lei, S., & Kordes, M. H. (2020). Women, wealth, and demand for financial planning services. Journal of Financial Planning33(8), 48–55.