“We are losing women in this profession and we do have a gender issue in this profession,” Rebecca Pomering of Moss Adams Wealth Advisors told a room full of women—and some men—during Schwab’s IMPACT conference Monday.
Speaking on a women’s panel along with Pomering, Peggy Ruhlin of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc., added that “25% of the attendees at conferences were women when I started, and that hasn’t changed”—a fact that she said both “surprises and upsets” her.
Ruhlin and Pomering were joined by Schwab’s Naureen Hassan as well as Suanne Ramar of Nelson Capital Management. They each shared their experiences in the profession and offered some sage—and frank—advice to the other female advisors in attendance.
Ramar, who said she entered the advisory field “by accident” right out of college, noted the importance of mentoring. The woman who ended up mentoring her had an MBA and CFA, she said, two credentials she eventually secured for herself. Mentoring, she said, has to be a “path that’s best for both parties.”
Pomering agreed. “Mentoring has to be a two-way street,” she said. “You mentor people because they help you advance in your career and skills as well.” As her mentor said to her: “The more successful you are the more we can grow this.”
Ruhlin urged the women in attendance to join their local chapters of financial planning-related associations, which she said “can pay off big time.” While not having a mentor herself, Ruhlin said that early in her career she became president of her local chapter of the “old IAFP” [now the FPA].
“When I was president of the local IAFP, there was a big one-day stock market crash and ABC News decided to cover this event,” Ruhlin recalled. ABC News went to the IAFP looking for someone to interview, she said, “and they suggested me; it was casual day and I had to send my husband home to get an outfit.” Peter Jennings ended up being the newscaster who interviewed her on Monday night, “right before Monday night football,” so “everybody saw this show—I got all sorts of calls. What do you think that kind of publicity would cost?”
The women also agreed that challenges can be masked as opportunities. While opportunities came her way because she is a woman, Pomering said, “the bigger opportunities come from proving yourself in those initial opportunities.”
Ramar told attendees not to fall into the trap of being “self-deprecating” when opportunities come their way.
“Don’t say I was really lucky rather than being smart. Let’s be both lucky and smart and take advantage of that opportunity.”
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