Raymond James Making Big Moves to Raise Number of Female Advisors

Working with organizations dedicated to promoting women in the industry, Raymond James hopes to move beyond ‘15%’

Michelle Lynch heads up the Raymond James Network for Women Advisors. Michelle Lynch heads up the Raymond James Network for Women Advisors.

How can the financial services industry improve upon the “15%” figure—the level of participation female advisors now have, and a number that has proven difficult to build upon within the industry?

Before Hurricane Matthew forced an early end to the 22nd annual Raymond James Women’s Symposium (RJF) in Orlando, about 340 female financial advisors and guests were treated to talks by senior executives, educational sessions and keynote speeches that addressed that and other topics.

Close to 30 prospective female reps also attended the program.

Michelle Lynch, vice president and director of the Raymond James Network for Women Advisors, said in an interview Raymond James is laser-focused on “what we can do to support our women advisors…and how we can best support women in the industry.” She added, “Fifteen percent is not enough.”

For instance, Raymond James is working with women who want to make a career change and with U.S. colleges that offer the CFP designation. Also, its Advisor Mastery Program lets women spend two years in training and transitioning to a career as a financial advisor.

“Some groups help women re-enter the work force, so we are seeing how we can to work with them [to facilitate women] becoming advisors,” she explained. “And we’ve had about 75 inquiries through our website since May” from women exploring second careers as advisors.

Raymond James also has a training program, the Registered Associate Mentoring Program, to support sales assistants who want to move into careers as advisors.

“Organizations are popping up and [they] host events like job fairs so women can discuss new careers as they look to enter the workforce,” Lynch explained. “It’s a new strategy, so we are figuring out how to integrate our efforts with theirs.”

These efforts are taking place in conjunction with the Women’s Leadership Alliance, a program established by some top female advisors, with the goal of raising $1 million in five years to promote women in the industry. “We have raised $450,000 in the first year of pledges,” she said.

Prior to its recent Alex. Brown purchase, Raymond James had about 6,800 advisors in the United States and Canada. As of last fall, about 850 of these registered reps were women. The company’s executive committee includes Bella Loykhter Allaire, executive vice president of technology and operations. Along with Story, Shelley Broader, president, CEO and director of Chico’s FAS Inc., sits on Raymond James' corporate board of directors.

Conference Content

On Wednesday, advisors got an update on the new Department of Labor fiduciary standard and heard from Carla Harris—a Wall Street banker, gospel singer and author.

On Thursday, client-relations specialist Amy Florian of Corgenius and Cathleen Stahl, global head of marketing for PIMCO, addressed the group—as did Raymond James CEO Paul Reilly. Political correspondent Cokie Roberts and Dr. Joe Coughlin of MIT AgeLab delivered their talks via Skype.

The dinner gala was moved to an earlier time Thursday to accommodate guests trying to leave Orlando before the hurricane hit; events scheduled for early-Friday were cancelled. The conference also featured educational breakout sessions, workshops led by home-office staff members and study groups.

Lynch says the eight Alex. Brown advisors who attended the event “are very excited about the Women’s Network and all we are doing to support them.”

The Women’s Symposium will return to the Tampa area next year and is scheduled to be held at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina.

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