Women Working as Financial Advisors Making Strides

As March celebrated Women’s History month, the media eagerly highlighted women’s accomplishments across a variety of industries – including profiles of top female executives in the financial services industry.

Investopedia put together a nod to ten of the industry’s top women investors handling everything from mutual funds to private equities. It was an inspiring read.

However, in an industry where barely a third of all active financial advisors are women, it begs the question, “Have you really come a long way, baby?”

Let’s take a look at how the industry employs and supports women.

Remote Work Attracts Female Financial Advisors

It is no shock that working remotely with flexible scheduling is attractive to women – especially younger career women who are also raising children. While the COVID-19 pandemic has cast a spotlight on the difficulties faced while working from home, it has also given the business world a much clearer image of how well remote working really can work. The financial services world is no exception.

StephJames“Along with the rest of the world, the financial advisors profession is already undergoing a post-pandemic evolution,” said Stephanie James, a partner and senior financial advisor with the Westcott Financial Advisory Group LLC with offices in Florida and Pennsylvania. “Remote work is one example that has revolutionized our industry in a number of days. Geographic boundaries faded, virtual forms of communication skyrocketed, some with non-traditional work-life schedules excelled with the flexibility, and technology continues to shock the system.”

There is a plethora of online guides to remote working – including ones tailored just for financial advisors. Forbes, Indeed, Prosperity Coaching and Wealth Management are just a few online sites offering tips on everything from how to set up a home office to how to run a zoom call.

The Industry Struggles but Also Makes Some Effort

It’s no secret – at least to most women – that the financial services industry is still emerging from being “a good old boys” club. There are more men employed as financial advisors and more of the industry’s top executive positions are held by men.

According to a 2019 report by Catalyst titled, “Workplaces That Work for Women,” only 38 percent of investment firms have women serving in an active role on the firm’s investment committee. Only eight percent of chief financial officers are women. Within the financial services industry, women represented 62 percent of accountants and auditors versus only 32 percent of personal financial advisors.

Admire147Timothy Admire, president, CEO and managing partner of Willow Creek Wealth Management based in Sebastopol, California, said he hopes to see an increase in the number of women in the financial services industry.

“I think there are areas where we as an industry have struggled and at Willow Creek we have tried to put extra emphasis on building a diverse and inclusive team, but there is still much work to be done in this area,” said Admire. “I think that the perspective women bring to financial planning and investing is invaluable.”

Admire said the notion of investment diversification ought to also apply to the professionals working in the industry.

“I think the age-old maxim to diversify your portfolio applies to the work force as well – we will be stronger as a firm when have diversity of experience reflected in our work culture,” he said.

More Women Seeking Certification

Women gave gained a foothold in working towards professional certification within the financial services industry.

Between 2015 and 2020, the number of women seeking the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation doubled from 70,000 to 140,000. In 2020, women represented 41 percent of all CFA candidates. While that’s a bit short of half of the total candidates, it represents a significant gain from 2015 when women represented only 32 percent of those seeking the designation.

Firms and Clients Seek Women

Clients are asking for female advisors and leading investment firms are responding to that request, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

In 2019, the following firms report these statistics regarding women in their workforce:

• UBS: Women represented 20.9 percent of its workforce. In 2011, women represented 18.6 percent.
• One-third of the 3,500 employees enrolled in the Merrill Lynch Wealth Management adviser training program were women.

mari“Many people looking for a financial professional, feel women are good listeners and can better understand and address their money concerns,” wrote Mari Adam, president of Adam Financial Associates, Inc., in Boca Rotan, Florida, in an article on “It may be a stereotype, but women advisors are perceived to go far beyond basic financial tasks like recommending a good investment or helping you save for retirement. Women focus more on educating clients about key financial choices and understand how investments and spending can impact your family’s financial goals.”



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