When will investment advisers take women seriously?

Woman holding black piggy bank with arrow

A consulting firm that advises money managers recently published a study with such a ludicrous title, it sounded like something from the Onion:

"Women Are Not a 'Niche' Market. They Are a Significant Business Opportunity."

Really? It’s 2012, and consultants still must urge investment advisers to respect women and their money?

Apparently so.

"Investment professionals have long viewed women investors, at best, as a secondary market or, at worst, as a minor niche market to be served by a few specialists," the report from Pershing Advisor Solutions says.

It goes on to warn that "investment professionals who do not develop successful approaches for serving them may be left in the dust in the coming years."

Yes, they will. The numbers prove it.

I graduated from college in 2002, which was, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the first year that colleges graduated equal numbers of men and women.

Now, we make up 59% of college graduates. That's a huge gain in 10 years.

We’re not going there to get our MRS degrees, either.

We're going there to invest in ourselves and to get the education that will be the foundation of our professional lives -- ones that involve building careers and making money.

With more women graduating from college than men, we’re bringing home more of the bacon.

Today, 40% of women outearn their husbands. If forecasts hold true, we’ll be the primary breadwinners in this country by 2030.

And that's just the married women.

Single women are heading our own households, building our own careers and planning for financial futures that we know may not involve a partner.

The study also offers tips on how to engage female clients, with things like "treat the woman as equal partners in the relationship" and "ask for the woman client's e-mail address and directly send her investment newsletters and other material."

Investment professionals need to be told to treat women as equals?

No wonder the women surveyed were, across the board, less satisfied with their financial planners than their husbands were and that 70% of widows fire their financial planner within a year of their husband's dying.

So any financial professional who still thinks that women clients are handled by boutique firms draped in pink gauze should wise up, or they will cut out more than half of their potential future clients.

I invest with Vanguard. Not only do I appreciate their low cost and transparent pay structure, but they don't give a flying fig if the money is coming from a man or a woman's bank account.

But if I ever encounter a condescending investment adviser, I will cut him (or her) off and take my money with me.