Success Stories | Financial Services

Using in-person simulations to uncover the role of gender bias in investment relationships

Business Issue

A well-known wirehouse broker/dealer wanted to dig into the role gender plays in Financial Services. They were specifically interested in how gender relates to the success of advisor-investor relationships. How does gender impact new client acquisition and the building of strong, loyal relationships? How could gender stereotypes and miscues affect the short- and long-term success of these relationships?

What We Did

As biases are unconscious and can’t be measured directly with traditional market research techniques, Escalent designed an innovative research plan to systematically uncover and measure gender bias from multiple angles. As part of a multi-phase approach, we conducted 72 in-person simulated meetings between investors and advisors during which trained researchers were on-site to observe and log stereotyping miscues. Advisors wore special glasses that cataloged their visual focus and uncovered unconscious bias during the interactions. Researchers watched recordings of the meetings and performed behavior coding to generate a database of observed miscues. The team applied lexical analysis to the transcripts to investigate differences in speech patterns and word choice when speaking to each gender.

Result

Escalent’s award-winning research provided deep insight into how advisors perform, specifically among women. We found that when meeting with heterosexual couples, advisors visually focus most of their time on the male. And behavior coding revealed an average of 10 miscues per 30-minute meeting. lexical analysis found differences in word choice when speaking with men vs. women. These data support that gender-based miscues (whether intentional or unintentional) negatively impact relationships with investors and their perceptions of financial services as an industry. Since its launch, this research has won and been nominated for multiple awards for the innovative approaches Escalent used as well as its impact on the world. The client is also providing training on gender bias and miscues and adjusting business practices to ensure women feel seen and heard in the world of wealth management.

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