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Women's Financial Empowerment

There is a Talent Shortage in Finance, and Women Can Fill the Void

Photo: Courtesy of John Calabrese

Financial services companies take great pride in their ability to adapt. They’re known for responding accordingly to shifts in markets, demographics, geopolitics and consumer preferences.

So why are these companies so slow to adapt to the growing influence of women in the workforce? More importantly, what can be done to help them recruit, retain and promote women into positions of leadership?

Let’s take a look at the financial advice profession. Today, just two out of 10 financial advisors are women. That’s pitiful when you consider that women comprise 51 percent of the overall U.S. population and are soon expected to control an estimated $22 trillion in wealth, according to Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy.

What makes the situation even worse is that women are desperately needed in the advisor workforce. The average age of a financial advisor is 51, and 38 percent of advisors expect to retire in the next 10 years, according to Cerulli Associates.

Women can — and should — fill that gap. They bring important skills such as problem-solving, empathy and active listening to the table. They’re also ideally suited to work with the growing number of women taking control of significant financial assets.

InvestmentNews — the No. 1 publication and website read by financial advisors — along with financial services giant Charles Schwab, recently gathered more than 50 of the industry’s most influential women to discuss how firms may recruit, and retain, more women. Here are just a few of the ideas we came up with:

1. Understand women’s “money motivators” and structure compensation accordingly

Many women are deterred by the perception of an “eat what you kill” mentality. Firms should embrace stability and team-oriented goals with their compensation packages.

2. Invest in training and ongoing development

Firms should invest in women’s education and career development, and clearly define expectations and opportunities for advancement within their organizations.

3. Lead by example

Firms that are committed to bringing more women into the fold should state so in their mission statements and make sure this focus is reinforced to employees and clients.

The time is ripe for change. New technology, regulation and greater client demand for relationship-based services are bringing disruption to the industry.

These challenges present a clear opportunity for greater inclusion of women.

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