September 23, 2011

Sallie Krawcheck’s Legacy Assured: Raymond James Women’s Forum

A role model for women who has 'played in the big leagues' should be a hot commodity

At the Women's Symposium this week, (from left) Raymond James & Associates President Dennis Zank; Raymond James Financial COO Chet Helck; and Dick Averitt, CEO of RJFS. At the Women's Symposium this week, (from left) Raymond James & Associates President Dennis Zank; Raymond James Financial COO Chet Helck; and Dick Averitt, CEO of RJFS.

As firms like Raymond James (RJF) endeavor to boost the ranks of women in the brokerage business, their executives and advisors say the Sallie Krawcheck story, despite her recent layoff from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch (BAC), remains a powerful one.

“She has played in the big league at several firms [BofA, Citibank-Smith Barney and Sanford Bernstein] and shows women that it can be done,” Raymond James COO Chet Helck said in an interview with AdvisorOne on Thursday, during the firm’s annual Women’s Symposium in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Firms like Raymond James are seeking to increase women advisors and executives at all levels,” Helck said. “They want to do that as a good idea for business. And with the limited number of women advisors and executives, the competition is intense.”

Raymond James says that about 14.6% of its 5,400 financial advisors are women. In the United States, it has about 585 practicing female advisors.

sallie krawcheckHelck adds, “Sallie Krawcheck will not have hard time finding another job. Just as when a woman advisor wants to change firms, the competition is tough.”

Her success, he says, “is that people know her as a household word.”

Female advisors agree.

“I heard her speak at a conference after she’d joined BofA from Citi,” said Raymond James advisor Sacha Millstone of Boulder, Colo. “The women at the event from Citi gave her a standing ovation. That showed me that those who work for her are totally devoted to her. She is a total star.”

As for Krawcheck’s departure from BofA, Millstone and the executives at Raymond James see it as a political shift rather than any statement regarding her performance.

“The fellow [former BofA President and CEO Ken Lewis] who recruited her left Bank of America and then she was out,” explained Millstone. “It happens all the time.”

When Millstone saw the news of Krawcheck’s departure from BofA in early September, “I was emailing folks at Raymond James’ headquarters, saying ‘Sallie is available!’ ” the advisor explained. “I think she is amazing and that we should get her over here.”

Her legacy is a significant, other advisors stress. “We’d love to see more women enter the field,” said Laura Steckler, a Raymond James advisor based in Miami. “We need figureheads like Sallie. They are sorely needed as the number of women is few and far between.”  

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