Women in Insurance Sales: Challenges and Opportunities

In Spring 2016 the Maguire Center for Ethics collaborated with The American College State Farm Center for Women in Financial Services to conduct research to better understand the experience of women working in the financial services. This preliminary study was designed to address the following overarching question: How does gender influence individual experiences and perceptions of the equality of opportunity between men and women in the financial services industry? The study included a survey completed by 1,135 industry professionals at six different companies, along with in-depth interviews with 71 survey respondents who volunteered to participate. The results from this preliminary study suggest that women in the financial services industry have a fundamentally different experience than men, and that this experience informs a substantially less optimistic view of the opportunity structures for women in the industry.

Survey of Widows and Widowers

The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which recent widow(er)s chose to stay with their financial advisor after their spouse’s death, chose to work with a new advisor, or chose to not work with an advisor at all. We also wanted to determine the reasons behind their decision to keep, drop, or switch advisors. More specifically, we aimed to examine widow(er)s’ financial attitudes and risk tolerance, their use of financial advisors in the past, and the relationship with their advisor at the time of their spouse’s death.

The Financial Needs of Gen Y, Gen X, and Boomer Women

Using data from a 2015 analysis of our study, The Financial Needs and Attitudes of Women of Color, The American College State Farm® Center for Women in Financial Services has compiled the most critical financial needs of Generation Y, Generation X, and Baby Boomer women.

Financial Needs and Attitudes of Women of Color

A report issued by The American College State Farm® Center for Women in Financial Services seeks to explore the financial goals, challenges, and behaviors of women of color. It also highlights their level of comfort with financial management, their satisfaction with their current financial situation, and their attitudes and use of financial companies and professionals including selection characteristics such as ethnicity, gender, and age.

Women and the Risk of Disability

This interview discusses the startling results from a study on disability awareness. It is projected that one in four people currently age 20 will be forced to stop working for a considerable amount of time due to a disabling condition. However, only 26 percent of American households own disability income insurance. This report looks at this considerable protection gap and explores the level of awareness of the respondents to the incidence of disability as well as their understanding of disability insurance. In essence, the report proves the very notion that “what people don’t know can hurt them.”

Women Business Owners Research

The American College State Farm® Center for Women in Financial Services completed a study on women business owners with the objective of determining the common financial goals, concerns, and actions among female business owners. Findings indicated that small business owners often show a strong bias for financial advisors of the same gender. The study had strong implications with regard to the current makeup of the advising community and the economic benefits associated with an increased representation of female advisors within the industry. The research also revealed that while the overwhelming majority of small business owners are concerned about retirement, a third of the women and a quarter of the men surveyed have not estimated how much they are going to need when they retire. This data suggests that millions of business owners are vastly underprepared for retirement.

Barriers and Enhancers to Advisor Success

In partnership with The University of Akron and Karen Lahey, PhD, CFP®, the first set of primary research conducted by The American College State Farm® Center for Women in Financial Services focused on gender differences in the recruitment and retention of financial services producers. This statistically valid, quantitative study revealed startling insights relative to the barriers and enablers of producer success, both in absolute, as well as in gender specific terms.