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Women Feel Stereotyped by Wealth Managers

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Most well-to-do women surveyed by The Boston Consulting Group say wealth managers need to do a better job serving their needs as they face frustrating stereotypes that leave them feeling like second-class clients.

The findings by the management-consulting firm were based on a 2010 survey of 500 women and interviews with private-banking specialists and rich investors.

According to the study, 55% of respondents said wealth managers must improve how they approach the advisory needs of women. Discontent was highest among women with $1 million to $5 million in assets under management.

Many of those interviewed said relationship managers assume they have a low risk tolerance and provide only a narrow range of investment services. Others said they were given "dumbed-down" versions of the standard offerings. A common complaint was that advisors don't take them seriously.

Respondents also cited "superficial strategies" that wealth managers use to target women, approaches that can come across as patronizing and contrived.

"The dissatisfaction stems from the unshakable perception that men get more attention, better advice, and sometimes even better terms and deals," says Peter Damisch, a BCG partner and a co-author of the study.

The findings come at a time when an increasing number of women are entering the ranks of affluence.

Women controlled an estimated 27%, about $20 trillion, of the world's wealth in 2009. In North America, women control a third of the wealth, and BCG projects that wealth controlled by women will grow at an average annual rate of 8% through 2014.

Several long-term trends have fueled this growth. Women have become more active in the global workforce, doubling to 1.2 billion between 1980 to 2008. The income gap between genders has narrowed as a result. Nearly 42% of women responding to the survey said they derive the entirety of their wealth from their own salaries and bonuses.

Due to longer life spans, women are also increasingly likely to assume control over large sums of wealth.

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