Women in Wealth Management

Four Perspectives

Women advisors often bring a fresh and needed perspective to financial planning. Consider Baytown Texas-based Jennifer Marcontell – number six on the Forbes list of America’s top women wealth advisors now managing $1.2 billion in client assets. Quoting from the article Marcontel says:

“Before I joined the industry, I went to a financial planner with my husband and it was a really bad experience. He spoke only to my husband—and I was the one who had stock options that I needed to do something with. He never addressed me. After reading about financial advice, I thought it was something I could do. So I decided to launch my business.”

Women helping women

That’s a life and career story that resonates soundly with Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA®, CES™ and president and CEO of Manhattan-based Francis Financial, Inc.

Stacy Francis“The finance industry has traditionally catered to men," explains Francis. “As more and more women have prioritized the importance of planning for their future and working with financial and wealth-management professionals, a more diverse financial-planning workforce is needed. However, this need will go unmet unless the demographics of financial experts start to reflect the population of those who seek their support and advice.”

Francis insists “that financial-service firms must face their workforce gender imbalances to meet the needs of all their customers. Making more room for women in the profession is key to promoting inclusion and helping women recover and rebound from the pandemic and economic challenges, in general. By taking these first steps, the financial-advice industry will make financial advice more accessible to women and be the catalyst for meaningful change.”

Francis also believes that women, in general, need greater access to financial services that meet needs from their unique perspective. For these and related reasons, Francis is the founder and board chair of Savvy Ladies, an online portal featuring a vast array of wealth, finance and retirement management education and resources tailored specifically for women. She is also a frequent contributor to the CNBC Financial Advisor Council.

Technology plus a pandemic become the catalyst

Women today – as always – after giving birth often go on to continue playing a lead if not the lead role in child-rearing. Traditionally, this could be limiting in terms of career choices as the mother would seek out jobs offering significant flexibility for both time and place. No more.

Carolyn LWEnter Covid-19, says Carolyn Larsen-Wieber, CPA/PFS and owner of Sanford, NC-based CLW Financial Planning LLC. “Technology being brought to the forefront during the pandemic is bringing more women to the profession by transcending geography and time. So instead of fitting your life around your work, your work can now fit around your life. I think the pandemic showed everyone, not only advisors, but also clients, that you don’t have to be in the office.

You can do virtual meetings and still accomplish the same results without all the travel time. You can take it home, on the road, or to your children’s soccer game.”

However, Larsen-Wieber maintains that new technologies are only part of the reason why more women are entering the wealth and retirement planning fields. “Being able to serve clients and allowing you to work where you want to is a powerful draw for anyone, but especially for women. I know. I can attest to being a woman who has transitioned from being a CPA partner in a thriving tax practice to her own financial advisory practice. I love to serve people.”

Broadening perspectives

Women are doing much more than merely joining the ranks of the wealth and retirement advisory profession, they are enriching its scope. For example, Sarasota, FL-based Jennifer R. Lee, AWMA®, AIF®, founder of Modern-Wealth says her group is working hard to broaden participation in wealth planning to include more family members.

Jennifer Lee 1.jpgLee feels that it’s important to discuss wealth with heirs. “We work hard to save, invest, and provide for our family while we’re here,” says Lee. “But money can be a burden and it can be squandered. So when I ask clients if they believe their kids or grandkids are capable and prepared, they often say no.”

Indeed, maintains Lee, “financial literacy is not widely taught and many people lack the depth or preparedness necessary to manage, retain, and enjoy the assets. Subjects such as beneficiary designations, inheritance, and legacy are natural places to consider whether your heirs have the aptitude and the skillset to manage wealth. We hope that we assist in providing character, education, values, and work ethic.”

At Modern Wealth, “we discuss the aptitude of the kids, sometimes engage them early and establish an advisory relationship. Other times, we coordinate family meetings. It really depends on the personal desires of the elders.”

Lee suggests a number of avenues available for bringing heirs up to speed. “You can conduct a series of family meetings where you can provide education and context about saving, values, the time value of money, leveraging professionals like your attorney, accountant, advisor, banker, mortgage broker etc.” Next, “you can introduce them to your advisor. Now their educational journey moving can expand to include cashflow planning, discretionary spending, asset allocation, income planning, business consulting.”

Finally, “you might have them meet with your estate planning attorney to walk through the trust documents.” Or alternatively, “you can take none of the above steps and just let your heirs fend for themselves whatever happens, happens.” Lee says “I vote for options 1, 2 or 3.”

Above we’ve presented profiles and ideas from four women playing at the forefront in wealth and retirement planning. Have something to add to the discussion? Email us your thoughts at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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