According to a BMO Wealth Institute report, women now hold over half of American wealth. Yet the financial industry has failed to keep pace with shifting wealth demographics; women account for a mere 32 percent of personal financial advisors. Bridging the gap requires busting dated myths about the business and embracing the ways women work.

A natural fit

“All [female advisors] think about is bringing more females into this industry... because we love it, it's great, we make a tangible difference and we know how much our segment is underserved.”

“I got into the industry because foundationally I felt like I was very good with money and finances and analytics,” says Jennifer Bacarella, the director of firm development and a member of the executive committee at Sigma Financial Corporation. “But being able to incorporate [a client’s] wishes and how they feel about their family, that part drew me in.”

“I think there may be a misnomer that you have to really be good at picking stocks,” adds Betsy Strong, the President of Strong Legacy Planning, who notes that the qualities she’s found most valuable in the job are empathy and intuition.

Though women may fear the unpredictability of building — and maintaining — a client base, Katie Buck, who joined her father-in-law’s firm, the E.A. Buck Family of Companies, as the first female advisor, and now serves as CEO and wealth manager, shares that women “can gain back the attributes they crave the most, which are freedom and flexibility. One of the best parts of my day is that I own when I work and how I work.”

The next generation

Now, as a large portion of the advising workforce approaches retirement age, Bacarella suggests that the push towards gender equity in the industry may depend on breaking entrenched norms of mentorship and succession. Because many of today’s advisors built their careers in a “very male-centered” industry, “they only think about bringing men into the industry,” she says. But through increased discussion and networking opportunities, such as the annual conference of Sigma’s Women’s Forum, the tide is turning. “All [female advisors] think about is bringing more females into this industry,” says Bacarella, “because we love it, it's great, we make a tangible difference and we know how much our segment is underserved.”