What women value most in a financial advisor

"He was talking at me, not with me. I stared at him and wondered: Does he have any idea that I am not listening? As I glanced over at my husband, I could see that he had mentally left the conversation, too. How could I trust someone with my life savings if he didn't even notice that we were not listening? A week later I moved our investments to another firm."
—Karen, 42-year-old entrepreneur, wife and mother of two

Trust is an important element in any client-advisor relationship and is especially paramount when working with women. Female clients want financial advisors who are not only technically skilled but exhibit an emotional side as well. Understanding this will go a long way in fostering new, solid relationships.

Financial advisor female client
Leonardo Patrizi | Getty Images

Women want advisors who demonstrate empathy and are willing to discuss the emotional aspects of money and investing. Karen didn't fire her advisor due to a lack of competency. For her, it came down to his lack of emotional intelligence.

"I really wanted him to notice that we were not engaged in the conversations," she said, adding, "But after several meetings, I realized he just didn't have this skill. My husband wasn't as bothered, but for me it was the last straw."

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How do you build trust with female clients? One thing for certain is that it involves talking about more than numbers. A female-friendly advisor attends to the relationship both inside and outside the office, listens and shows empathy and notices when something is not resonating with the client.

5 keys to success

To do this, you need to practice trust. You need to be transparent, reliable, understandable, sensitive and thoughtful.

Let's take a closer look at each of these traits and how they can help you better serve women clients.

1. Transparency. This trait involves being honest and open about the technical and non-technical aspects of your practice. Transparency is important when discussing how you are paid, what services you provide and the areas where your clients might be better served elsewhere.

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The last part of this equation can be challenging, as advisors traditionally were taught to be all-knowing experts. However, admitting to being human and having limitations actually increases trust in female clients because women bond by sharing personal challenges and vulnerabilities.

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2. Reliability. Women often complain that financial advisors say they are going to check on something, then fail to follow up and let them know the outcome. Some clients shrug this off as a simple oversight, but for many women the lack of verbal follow-up is unacceptable.

In their eyes, following up shows that you care, that they are important to you, and that you are working on their behalf, even when they are not in your office.

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The best way to demonstrate reliability is to follow through on your promises and update your female clients regularly during the process. Don't assume that she knows that you have taken care of a particular task; instead, clearly communicate that you have.

If a task gets delayed, send a quick email or leave a brief phone message sharing the status and assuring her that you will follow up again when the item is completed. While this may seem labor intensive, it is a relatively small investment of time to ensure you will have a client for life.

3. Understandability. In the male-dominated business world, the person who demonstrates the most expertise wins. In the female culture, the person who uses big words to impress others is often seen as arrogant and unapproachable.

When advising women clients, your expertise matters, but don't wear it on your sleeve. Lose the jargon and instead talk in simple, relatable terms. This is not because women are not as financially literate, but because most of the world doesn't speak fluent finance.

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Besides, women clients know you are smart or they wouldn't have taken time out of their busy schedule to meet with you.

What they really want from your time together is education about how to best navigate their financial lives given their unique life situation. No amount of jargon will help you accomplish that goal.

4. Sensitivity. Like it or not, money is emotional business, and women clients want advisors who will talk about the human side of finance.

Notice when a client is experiencing distress and ask her for more information. By leaning into the feeling—and not running away from it—you are showing women clients that you care and want to help them with all aspects of their financial lives.

Don't worry; discussing feelings does not constitute psychotherapy. It simply shows that you are committed to helping her achieve peace of mind around the family finances. That's something that women often find harder to do than men.

"Women know when you are being attentive as part of a sales strategy, and they have radar for disingenuous displays of interest."

5. Thoughtfulness. There are many ways to show thoughtfulness, such as demonstrating curiosity, showing empathy, remembering small details, noting and celebrating accomplishments or even just expressing sympathy during a hard time.

Your thoughtfulness comes across when you treat your clients as people, not just prospects or assets under management. Women know when you are being attentive as part of a sales strategy, and they have radar for disingenuous displays of interest.

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Take the time to find out what types of client recognition and appreciation tools work best for you and resonate with her, and stick with them. The goal is to be consistent and foster a healthy working relationship. Trust me—she will notice.

How many of the five traits do you display regularly? While there is no perfect way to establish and foster trust with female clients, making the effort in these areas will make a difference.

—By Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, special to CNBC.com. Kingsbury is a wealth-psychology expert, author and founder of KBK Wealth Connection.