Rebecca True is among a new breed of women advisors who have added a powerful voice to a male-dominated industry. Though she markets her services mostly to women business owners and executives, all advisors can learn from her approach.
Too many advisors develop their practice with too much of a shotgun approach, firing randomly toward targets that might meet their threshold for demographics and financial assets, but aren’t necessarily a good fit for them otherwise. Sometimes, as you well know, advisors and clients just don’t fit.
Rebecca True, president of True Capital Advisors, has the opposite approach to such broad marketing plans. She has an extremely focused practice with an emphasis on building relationships with women business owners and executives. To take it one step further, True often develops even stronger bonds with women who come from technical industries.
“I tend to relate to that group because that was my background so we have a commonality,” says True, who got her start out of college as a technology project manager, building websites for financial services firms.
Working out of New York City, at the time of 9/11, she saw firsthand the devastation of the attack, since many of the male advisors who her organization provided technology for lost their lives. “Our firm did a great deal to help the widows transition and take financial responsibilities for themselves and for their families.”
As one of the only females in her technology company, True was able to play an instrumental role in helping educate and heal some of those that were grieving. “It really gave me a unique opportunity to realize the importance and the impact that I could have as a financial advisor.”
Already armed with a securities license, True wanted to make a difference for women as a financial advisor and landed a job with Merrill Lynch, which proved to be the training ground for her. During her tenure at Merrill she and her husband relocated to Orlando, Fla., where she learned how to win clients and provide sound advice. But in the back of her mind, there was an entrepreneurial itch…
“Women like to learn in groups and they like to learn from people they know and trust.”
A focused practice
True found that even in a male-dominated industry like financial services, there’s room for a concentrated approach. When she opened her firm, True Capital Advisors in May 2009, she had a clear idea of the kind of practice she wanted to run—one that met the needs of professional women. I ask her how she’s able to target such a specific niche. The short answer is networking, something that women might be just a little better at than men. “I am very active in a number of women’s groups in our area. I spend a lot of time actively involved in getting to know the participants.”
With the smaller events, True impresses upon the invitees that she’s developed the meeting specifically with them in mind.
Some of the groups were established professional organizations that True joined while others were networking groups that she established, but all of them have at least one common goal: to provide a platform to introduce professional women to one another. “I’ve found that these groups allow me to work with women for common purposes whether it be to help each other out professionally or toward charitable means, and it’s allowed me the opportunity to get to know people on a (deeper level) and to serve more women over time.”
As for connecting with those women, True points to the idea that “women like to learn in groups and they like to learn from people they know and trust.” She says that she often partners with CPAs or attorneys to host small gatherings of women, whether it be a cocktail party, a dinner or a wine tasting, and present topical information to the attendees. “We’ve brought in economists, anti-aging doctors and other health and wellness professionals for educational purposes and have gotten a great reception in that environment.”
Some of these events are comprised of 100 percent current clients while for others True asks each client to bring a friend. In general, she likes to keep these get-togethers fairly tight-knit. “What we found is we’ve been most effective with events of 20 people or less because it allows us the proper time to be able to speak with everyone and also you’re better able to follow up with all the attendees.”
About once per year, generally at the holidays, True will host a bigger event with more than 100 people, but it’s those targeted gatherings that’s been the bread-and-butter for the firm and True says there’s a reason for that. Essentially, with the smaller events, True impresses upon the invitees that she’s developed the meeting specifically with them in mind. Whether the speaker at the event will be an economist or an anti-aging specialist, she knows the client, from all of their networking events, and the kinds of topics they’ll be interested in hearing. And, get this, True has a very old, but very reliable way in getting in touch with these invitees. “Over the years, we tried just about every marketing approach of what is the appropriate way to invite people to an event and what I’ve found is that with women they really prefer the more personal invitation so I typically pick up the phone and call them.”
Women on the Verge
Rebecca True is just one example of women advisors hitting their stride in a male dominated industry. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Micki Hoesly, who has been named the incoming president of MDRT in 2013. In fact, Hoesly told me that the MDRT board is now comprised of three women and two men. That’s the first time in the organization’s history that women have held a majority position.
But Hoesly told me another interesting tidbit. While women in the U.S. do not make up a large number of advisors (only 10.8 percent of those in MDRT), that’s not the case throughout the world. In fact, overall, MDRT has 37,805 members and 15,535 are women (41.1 percent).
And, Hoesly believes the numbers could move up in the U.S. as well. “Historically our industry has been biased toward new sales, but women tend to be gatherers and nurturers,” she says. “So, sometimes this hard sales approach is not as much a woman’s way.”
She adds that as clients increasingly look more toward long-term, educational-based relationships, it’s a great opening for women. “The service aspect is very, very important in planning. It’s an ongoing thing. Not just a one-time sales thing.”