Why Women in Wealth Matter

It’s nearly time to nominate the 50 Top Women in Wealth. Here is why it is important

AdvisorOne will soon call for nominations for the fourth annual 50 Top Women in Wealth (the successor to Wealth Manager’s Top Women in Wealth). The 50 Top Women in Wealth will honor the women who have the most impact on the wealth management profession today, covering them on AdvisorOne.com and in Investment Advisor and Research magazines.

These women are thought leaders, academics, regulators; they are running banks, registered investment advisors and broker-dealers. They make a difference to clients and colleagues, bringing along newer people—of both genders—in wealth management, and they are active on industry issues. This is not at all about who has got the biggest ‘book of business.’ It’s about who has impact, who inspires, who leads the profession of wealth management in the right direction.

The women selected over the past three years for the 50 Top Women were exemplary to begin with, but many have become even more prominent. Alums Sheila Bair, FDIC Chairman; Mary Schapiro, SEC Chairman; and Elizabeth Warren, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are top regulators. They became household names as the Dodd-Frank Act moved through Congress, and  were featured in a Time magazine cover story, “The New Sheriffs of Wall Street.”

Professor Tamar Frankel, wealth manager Diahann Lassus and Texas Securities Commissioner Denise Voigt Crawford have been advocating tirelessly on behalf of investors for a stronger fiduciary standard. Professor Olivia Mitchell has been studying retirement issues for women and Muriel Siebert, leader of the eponymous Wall Street brokerage firm, has been working on financial education programs for women and high school students. 

Ranji Nagaswami, who was a member of the advisory board that selected the Top Women for 2010, was tapped by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for a newly-created post: Investment Advisor for the City of New York, to oversee New York City’s pension system.

We highlight the 50 Women and their good work because we needed to call attention to the fact although women make up only a fraction of the investment industry, many of this relatively small group are outstanding leaders. The industry needs to open its doors to more women, and provide paths for talented women to stay in the industry, as other industries have, because it is good for the investment business. Perhaps the bottom line is the bottom line, here.

Why Boost Women?

The severity of the financial crisis prompted the National Council for Research on Women (NCRW) to look into the causes of the crisis and "explore the exclusionary biases that are present in the business of money..." adding, "the crisis itself compels us to ask if we can afford NOT to tap the differing experiences, perspectives and investment styles that women bring to fund management..."

The resulting report, "Women in Fund Management: A Road Map for Achieving Critical Mass - and Why it Matters,” notes research showing a “correlation between the proportion of women in top management at a corporation and its stock price during a time of general economic downturn.” This research, by Michel Ferrary, professor of human resources at CERAM Business School in France, showed: “The more women there were in a company’s management, the less the share price fell in 2008.”

Other research supports this view, and underscores the reasons why it is important to bring more women into the investment industry.

Highlighting what some of the leaders are doing, by selecting the 50 Top Women in Wealth is part of achieving this important goal.

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