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Women Make Great Advisors — So Why Aren’t There More?

When women look for a financial advisor, most (70% according to a 2013 study by the Insured Retirement Institute) look for a woman. The Bank of Montreal’s Wealth Institute says women control $14 trillion (about 51%) of American personal wealth – a number expected to reach $22 trillion by 2020. With demand today and future opportunity to boot, you’d think there would be more female advisors than the three out of 10 number that exists today.

Providing thoughts on this business conundrum is Sacha Millstone, Wealth Manager, The Millstone Evans Group of Raymond James. Millstone offers some reasons — and some answers — on the subject:

“Women want to see a career path.”

  • Women have more desire for job security than a traditional financial planning business model, where a book must be built, typically offers — in surveys women have said they want a career path. 
  • We can create career tracks from existing jobs, for example:
    • The way the industry thinks about the job of sales assistant could be changed so that it is an entry-level position for beginning a career as a financial planner (planning only), or an advisor, or a manager through team or operations management. 
    • The fact is that many sales assistants already progress along these tracks, but it has not always been easy to do so. Millstone suggests that this should change to reflect the realities of today’s job market.

“Many women feel hesitant to jump into the business without being fully trained.”

  • In Millstone’s experience, women feel less confident than men and books such as The Confidence Code have documented the difference. Because of the perceived complexities of the business, women express a desire for more comprehensive training than the industry typically provides before they are asked to bring in new clients.
  • She suggests firms consider:
    • Being specific in the outline of the training program as to how and when trainees will be taught the necessary skills to bring in new business.
    • Being specific about describing the role of the financial advisor — what activities comprise a typical advisor’s day/week/month.
    • Being clear about the roles advisory teams need today and outline career paths for each: professional administrative roles, financial planning roles, business development roles, investment management roles, and team/branch management roles.
    • Market these defined paths to young people in high schools, colleges and graduate schools. Be visible at career fairs and other opportunities.

Aimee Boggs, Senior Vice President, Investments, Boggs-Huffman Wealth Management Group of Raymond James, also shares her views:

“There are misconceptions regarding the skills necessary to be an advisor.”

  • Women believe the job of an advisor involves a financial background they don’t have.
  • This business involves listening more than anything — something women do well. Resources are available that provide financial details and guidance.
  • Women think the job of an advisor requires extensive math skills.
  • In reality, the job requires much less math than most people realize, and technology makes it easy to manage even those mathematical requirements.

One of the reasons you’ll most often hear for why there are so few women in the industry is women simply don’t know about the opportunity — a sentiment echoed by Traci Richmond, CFP®, The Meakem Group, an independent firm.

“It’s not on their radar.”

  • Most women have never been shown the career opportunity that exists.
  • One of the things that can help put it on the career list is the benefit of schedule flexibility, especially for moms.

Being an advisor has given many moms, like Richmond, control of their schedules. Richmond was an attorney who traveled extensively and had a grueling schedule. On the rare occasion that she wasn’t working, she was too tired to enjoy her family. After the birth of her first child, she decided to make a change. Being a financial advisor was a second career for her mom, who had been a teacher before her children were born. For Richmond, becoming an advisor was a natural choice.

For more insights from women advisors visit Raymond James Practice Insights.

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CFP® | Certified Financial Planner™ | Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., owns the certification marks above, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete initial and ongoing certification requirements.

©2015 Raymond James & Associates, Inc., member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC

©2015 Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC 

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