“There’s no secret sauce.”
Missy Epperson, a private wealth executive with Regions Bank, can boil financial matters down to those few simple words. Through Regions’ Women and Wealth program, she works to instill confidence and dispel any mystery when it comes to women and their finances. She is, in practice, part myth buster and part cheerleader.
“It’s really just about getting comfortable and trusting whomever you’re talking with,” Epperson says. “Investments are not rocket science. It’s all easily understood: A stock is part of a company; a bond is just a note that a company has. Women don’t have any trouble understanding that. But they think there is some magic about it, and there’s really not.”
To educate and empower clients, Women and Wealth was started about four years ago in Baton Rouge and was then launched throughout south Louisiana. Epperson’s wealth group is predominantly female—and 40% of the Regions private wealth advisers are women—so the connection is natural.
“We network well,” she says. “Women are very intuitive as far as building relationships and asking about goals. It is very important in planning that you know what the client is trying to accomplish. I think our team does a very good job of that. So Women and Wealth was a great way to launch that effort, and the company as a whole has picked up on it.”
The seminars, alternating between the Capital and Crescent cities, are held twice a year and are well-attended. Women are hungry for financial advice and guidance, and Epperson found that participants liked the networking, enjoyed having a little fun, and wanted to learn something. “In one session we talked about LouAnn Lofton’s book, Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl, because the things that he does—studying, buy and hold strategies—women tend to do innately, and it is a very effective strategy,” she explains.
Epperson calls it success when women feel comfortable enough with the format that is used and the openness that is cultivated to ask very basic questions that they would be intimidated to pose with males present. And seminars are popular across the board. “That is the fun thing: It is all ages, professions, some working, some not, some with significant wealth, some building wealth—it is just women.”
Epperson notes that by 2030, women will control 70% of the money in the U.S., but as a gender often lack confidence in how they manage they financial affairs, particularly investments. “And yet,” she adds, “we have the same education, and background, and resources, and capabilities. It is just about our confidence level.” The Regions Women & Wealth website has a number of financial and investment tools—including tips, videos, calculators and other financial information.
“We are not selling anything. There’s no product conversation in any of this. The clients really do respond well, and they really do appreciate it,” she says proudly. “This is an area that I’m obviously passionate about. It just fits so nicely with my personality type, which is to help people and build relationships, and they pay me to do it! How cool is that?”
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