How TD is building a more inclusive investment environment

Change is needed to keep pace with women's growing financial influence
Education, inheritance and longer life spans means women will soon control the majority of wealth in Canada.

Education, inheritance and longer life spans means women will soon control the majority of wealth in Canada.

Women are steadily taking control of more and more of Canada’s wealth, which will cause problems for brands who don’t understand the ways in which they exclude women. Finance, for example, has long been treated as a male arena, with men centred in everything from brand marketing to customer relationship management. Many female investors feel alienated by the fact that most institutions don’t know how to connect with them or understand their concerns.

Changes in wealth distribution among genders will force companies to rethink how they talk to women about money. TD is one organization already looking to change that conversation, not just because it’s good business, but because it’s long overdue in the industry.

There are big societal factors behind women’s increasing wealth. According to 2018 data from The Conference Board of Canada, women now represent 56% of university graduates (and 51% leave with a Master’s degree), which raises their earning potential earlier in life. And significantly more women are inheriting money. Research from IPC shows women will inherit approximately 70% of intergenerational wealth by 2026, totaling about $710 billion.

In terms of spending power, the change will be drastic. Research from Investor Economics and TD Asset Management shows Canadian women influenced roughly $1.3 trillion of all personal wealth nationwide in 2016. By 2026, that influence is projected to more than double to $3 trillion.

Research from Strategic Insight shows roughly 80% of Canadian women fire their husbands advisors after their husbands die.

Research from Strategic Insight shows roughly 80% of Canadian women fire their husbands advisors after their husbands die.

“Five years from now, more than half of the wealth in Canada will be in the hands of women,” says Ingrid Macintosh, VP Wealth, head of sales enablement, marketing and digital strategy, TD Asset Management. With more than 30 years in the financial sector, she serves as the executive sponsor of the Women and Wealth program at TD.

“Because of higher education, higher earning power and because women tend to outlive men, they are becoming the dominant power of the wallet,” she says.

She has been spearheading a movement to make investing at TD a more female-friendly environment. And her efforts can serve as an example for other brand leaders trying to affect change at their organizations.

Marketing is a part of TD’s transformation, Macintosh says, and women are bound to become more visible in financial service advertising as their influence grows. But aside from the obvious need to avoid merely “pinking up” ads, Macintosh says change must reach right down to one-on-one client interactions. At TD, that means changes at the advisor level.

Traditionally, she says, a household’s relationship with an advisor had been managed by a male. But according to 2017 research from Strategic Insight, about 80% of Canadian women fire the family advisor after their husbands die. “Women tend to think in terms of what their financial security looks like along with their hopes and dreams, their ability to support a family,” Macintosh says. “It’s a much more holistic view of money.”

Women also, unfortunately, often get treated poorly by advisors. A 2010 report by The Boston Consulting Group found examples of women leaving advisors because they were being “stereotyped” and were receiving “dumbed down” information. Instead, Macintosh says, women are more likely to ask friends and family for advice.

Advisors are a key point of customer contact for TD, and it's changing its approach to adapt to women's needs. Advisors are a key point of customer contact for TD, and it's changing its approach to adapt to women's needs.

Advisors are a key point of customer contact for TD, and it’s changing its approach to adapt to women’s needs.

To combat that industry failing with more inclusive resources, TD built a Women and Wealth website designed to help women navigate the investment world in everyday language. “This is at the heart of what I do as executive sponsor for the Women and Wealth program: the outreach, how we talk to different segments of clients,” says Macintosh.

But identifying a problem and solving it are two very different challenges. How does Macintosh see the way forward for her 165-year-old institution?

Inclusion is the first step, she says. Women must be part of the decision making at all levels of the company, to reflect the market it hopes to serve. Diversity committees are a great tool to build that representation. From there, identifying bias plays a big role in changing one-on-one customer interactions.

“People generally want to know if they have a blind spot, and once they’re aware of that, they want to do better,” Macintosh says. That’s why the Women and Wealth program at TD helps shape employee training programs. In the end, they want that point of client contact to be one where women feel comfortable asking questions and will see products that meet their needs as female investors.

“We can’t just say ‘please come to us, we’re the bank that does better for women.’ We have to actually do better for women. We’re the bank that touts financial confidence, and what we’re hearing from Canadian women is they’re not financially confident. We have a social and a business obligation to change that narrative in Canada.”