Recently I was a panelist at the Invest in Women conference in Houston sponsored by Financial Advisor magazine. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet with women and hear their dreams, fears, anger and ideas. These are the overwhelming concepts that I discovered:
The financial services industry needs more women advisors and leaders. And I mean needs. Not a “women’s initiative” that only serves to make the firm look like it’s trying to include women. Not a false “This will make us look diversified” effort where only one woman is an advisor in a sea of men. Our industry is undergoing a revolution. We are pressed on one side by the “robo” advisor and on the other by potentially dangerous do-it-yourself retirement kits sold to unwitting folks by TV pitchmen (and women) especially those who are not currently licensed advisors.
The average investor, the mass affluent with assets up to $10MM, is best served with a comprehensive, holistic approach. It’s not just a numbers game. Whether or not a firm investment strategy “beats the market” is becoming less of a factor than helping clients make the right decisions. Bad timing, poor decision making and lack of problem solving help can decimate a portfolio far faster than a bear market or even a mediocre return.
Ladies this is a call to action. It’s time to take control and be more you! Our industry needs more personalized service, not numbers; more passion, not robots; more guidance, not dictates. Find a home that nurtures you and allows you to grow, not a culture where you are elbowed out or overlooked.
During the conference, I heard from women about their often ignored status in a number of companies. They are the ones who get left out of the decision-making process. Those whose nature it is to help become the clean up personnel when others in the firm are out raising assets on the golf course.
If this resonates with you, here are some questions to help you find a firm where you can thrive as an advisor who makes a difference:
- Do women have a leadership role in the firm? Are they part of the C-suite? Do they have ownership?
- Is there a culture of collaboration and communication where everyone is rowing in the same direction?
- As part of the firm’s offering, will they help coach, guide and mentor you?
- Is there enough support staff to ensure you can spend time with clients and developing new clients?
- What are their marketing initiatives and can you be directly involved in them?
- Does the firm have a defined, clear and articulated point of view that takes a holistic approach to leading investors to a fulfilling life?
A growing number of women-owned, independent RIAs now exist that address the corporate culture and client service issues we see so often. Think about where you want your life and career to go, and whether your current firm is really the best fit for you.