I watch “Mad Men” as much for the anthropological intrigue as I do the storyline. The boozing, the smoking, the sleeping around makes me wonder how we ever progressed past the 1960s. The treatment of women in the workplace, of course, seems offensively quaint. Fast-forward 50 years and they’re exacting their (well-deserved) revenge.
“Women are not a niche!” Sallie Krawcheck recently—and emphatically—declared.
Indeed, they are not. We all know the statistics about women outnumbering men in general, in college and, soon, in household wealth. To treat them as just another target market, as you would, say, physicians or airline pilots, is the reason for Krawcheck’s ire. Yet that’s exactly what too many advisors do. I had lunch with a top advisor recently who said he was “looking into” reaching out more to women as if it was something that just occurred to him, because, in fact, it had. He didn’t realize the flip manner in which he spoke would be offensive to some. Truth be told, if I hadn’t heard Krawcheck speak, neither would I.
It was for this reason that I approached this month’s issue with trepidation. Dedicated to the topics surrounding female advisors, clients and executives/business owners, I relied heavily on IA Managing Editor Danielle Andrus for navigation. To treat women as just another niche is condescending and insulting, and I didn’t want to make the same mistake in our coverage. Andrus patiently walked me back from my more patronizing ideas. For example, I initially wanted every writer and interview subject to be female and for her to write this column.
“Too gimmicky,” she said. “And you’re the editor of the magazine.”
Men dominate the industry, she added, and to not include them as part of the solution makes no sense and would, in fact, be incredibly patronizing.
Remember that before the latest Fed chairman debacle, Larry Summers was largely remembered for comments he made about women’s aptitude for the high sciences. He posed it as one of many discussion points at a Harvard symposium, and when I heard it, I shrugged my shoulders. The overall reaction, however, was decidedly more intense.
It’s exactly why men need to hire women if they’re looking to attract more female clients; not because all women want to work with female advisors, but because of the perspective they bring.
For an industry that’s overwhelmingly “male, pale and stale,” and one that is still struggling to find the next generation of advisors, the single largest demographic on the planet awaits.