Meena Lakdawala-Flynn is the Co-Head of Global Private Wealth Management at Goldman Sachs.
The wealth landscape is at an inflection point, with the next great wealth transfer happening before our eyes. Over the next decade, affluent U.S. women are expected to take control of an unprecedented amount of assets, and the wealth management industry is recognizing this shift.
One cause of this shift is demographics: “As baby boomer men die, many will cede control of assets to their female spouses, who tend to be both younger and longer lived,” according to a report by McKinsey.
Women are also generating more wealth: A 2022 Pitchbook study found that U.S. venture capital-backed companies with at least one woman founder raised over $95 billion between 2021 and 2022.
Historically, women were often under-targeted by the wealth management industry, generally resulting in less exposure to high-quality, strong risk-adjusted return investing opportunities.
In 2022, we conducted an internal survey of our women private wealth clients around the globe to hear directly from them how we can best serve this growing cohort of sophisticated investors. We found that for ultrahigh net worth families, satisfaction is driven by solid, trusting relationships with a team of advisors who understands their wealth goals and passions for what they want to accomplish with their assets.
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To meet the moment, financial advisors must build and grow authentic relationships with the new generation of women clients rooted deeply in one key goal: helping women maximize their impact based on what that means for them.
From my vantage point, this ranges from preparing the next generation for wealth ownership, investing and giving along common values, and saving them time so that they can focus on what is important to them.
Preserving And Growing Wealth For The Next Generation
The primary focus of many women is ensuring their families are set up for future success. Legacy planning is often the most profound accomplishment of their lifetimes. When we asked our women clients globally which topics they were interested in hearing about more frequently, trust and estate planning ranked first.
When women investors are described as more “risk averse,” I find that to be a misnomer. Instead, I find that women tend to be more “risk aware.” They want to understand the range of outcomes with a particular strategy or investment and how these outcomes may impact their overall goals.
The second topic our women clients were most interested in was strategies to prepare the next generation for wealth ownership. This includes how to lead a life that is not defined by one’s wealth level, and rather living with meaning, purpose and overall happiness. One of our clients who inherited wealth shared something that resonated with me—the importance to her of being known for her first name, not just her last name. The same philosophy applies to her children.
Investing In Exclusive Products And Areas
UHNW women are increasingly interested in access to exclusive, long-term private investments with the potential for higher return where one is compensated for the investment’s lower liquidity profile. In a recent internal survey of our women clients, almost two-thirds said that alternatives and unique private investment opportunities were among the offerings that they valued most having access to through their private wealth management advisor. These include global private equity, private credit and real estate.
Deploying Capital In Meaningful Ways
I often see UHNW women investors evaluating their portfolios in the context of their values and in ways that are tangible. Many utilize a goals-based investment approach, for example, orienting around a charitable contribution target or investing in their children’s and grandchildren’s futures, rather than on a drawdown analysis alone.
Aligning investments with a client’s values can also mean investing in diverse-led managers or businesses, as well as identifying companies with strong environmental, social and governance practices. Many women are focused on the “S” in ESG—driving impact around diversity, equity and inclusion, and other important societal focus areas, such as wage equality, housing affordability, equitable healthcare and accessible clean water.
Belonging To Powerful Communities
Many women tell us they want to be among communities where they can build upon each other’s experiences and help empower not only women, but also other diverse individuals. Connecting with others who share passions, challenges and learning is powerful.
We heard this at our recent In the Lead events in the U.S., London and Milan, which brought together women at the heights of their fields to cover timely, top-of-mind topics—from investing and geopolitics to entrepreneurship and raising successful children. Learning from renowned thought leaders and experts, and from each other, fostered an electrifying collaborative spirit. Following these events, many women clients are now partnering with each other on ventures they are passionate about on their own accord.
The unique perspectives and impact that women will have on the future of wealth management is undeniable. I am excited for the future of the industry with more UHNW women involved in the decision making.
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