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Industry Spotlight > Women in Wealth

Survey Says...

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Wealth Manager’s

Jane Berryman, a principal and vice president at Raymond James & Assocs. in Philadelphia, designed and for the past decade has been teaching and promoting an eight-week course at Temple University called Financial Planning for Women that emphasizes the importance of saving and investing. The course, which has been written up in area press, has been cited as one of the best CE programs for working adults in the region.

Lynn Nasman, president of LRN Associates Ltd. in Garden City, N.Y., played an integral part in developing the Financial Fluency Program for Barnard, the women’s college of Columbia University. In fact, Nasman was featured on the cover of the Winter 2009 Alumnae Magazine for her work on the program which seeks to empower the financial lives of both college seniors and alumnae.

Kathy Beck Barnes, president of Barnes Investment Advisory Inc. in Phoenix, Ariz., created Feminine Finance, a program to empower women through the understanding of money, in 1983. Over the past 25 years, Feminine Finance has grown to comprise classes, newsletters, weekly TV spots on the Fox News network as well as articles for’s Women’s Center.

Susan Werner Thoreson, a vice president and financial advisor at MorganStanley in Portsmouth, N.H., has presented seminars such as “Successful Women Invest in Themselves” as part of the Southern New Hampshire Leadership Conference. A strong believer in education, Thoreson serves as treasurer for the Women’s Fund of New Hampshire where she has also presented workshops. One–based on the book by David Bach–was entitled “Smart Women Finish Rich.”

The slogan of Granite Financial in St. Cloud, Minn.–an independent advisory firm that operates under the Securities America umbrella–is “Retirement and Estate Planning for Women.” And Patricia Hinds, CFP, who is both a registered representative and an IAR, says Granite’s ideal clients are “established women age 50 to 70.” But Hinds doesn’t confine her educational commitment to women “of a certain age.” Her PR podcast–”Women-centric Financial Planning Can Help Eliminate Stress and Bag Lady Fears”– is catalogued on iTunes. And she researched and wrote a white paper addressing the wealth management concerns of professionals and business owners who are women. In June, she’ll make a presentation about the special needs of women investors and women advisors at the Annual Securities America conference in Dallas.

In Cleveland, Ohio, Heather Ettinger runs a practice group on financial literacy for women entitled “Women in Transition.” Ettinger, a partner, executive vice president and senior advisor at Fairport Asset Management, also presents “Solutions for Women,” her trademarked educational program, to clients and their friends. “Our clients want education and communication, and I feel like I work 25 hours a day to deliver that,” Ettinger says.

Another kind of commitment that held a top spot among survey respondents was their dedication to community and professional development. Volunteering to community groups and speaking to women’s organizations, as well as service to their own professional associations, were high on most respondent’s lists of “things I do.” A few examples:

Elizabeth Talbot, executive director and the first female partner of the Colony Group in Boston, sits on the executive committee of Rosie’s Place, a well-known non-profit provider of services to poor and homeless women in and around the city. As a former president and treasurer of the Rosie’s Place board, Talbot put her financial skills and expertise to work for the community.

Theresa Waddell, CPA and CMPC, serves as co-branch manager with her husband Christopher, a CFP, of Raymond James Financial Services in Vienna, Va. As advisors to multi-generational families, the couple has carved out a niche among those with special needs, helping them navigate through the maze of benefits–SSI, Medicaid, housing assistance–that must be negotiated to ensure a future for their disabled children, siblings and grandchildren. The Waddells have published articles about the subject and appeared in major print media and on TV. By the way, Theresa points out that roughly 75% of caregivers for older or disabled family members are women.

Vonna Husby, owner of Vonna Husby & Associates LLC, and Raymond James Financial Services branch manager in Fairbanks, Alaska, supports A Women’s Affair–a trade show which represents more than 350 women-owned area businesses. She is also a member of the University Women’s Association, Soroptimist International, DAR, Women’s Republican Club, IAAP and the UAF Student Investment Fund…all that in addition to presenting regular in-house Professional Workshops for Women on a variety of financial management topics.

Diana L. Pingenot, vice president of Lee Financial Corp. in Dallas, is active in FPA and in the NAPFA Women’s Study Groups, which she has found to be a great exchange of ideas. She plans to participate in the NAPFA bus tour, answering community-posed planning and investment questions, when it reaches Dallas. And the firm will be on the roster of a town hall meeting at a local college. She also serves on the advisory board of an area hospital’s healthcare foundation supporting women’s leadership and health. Pingenot, who has been with Lee for 18 of her 22 years in the business, says women make up two-thirds of the 55-member firm. “I’m very active in leadership ideas that empower other women in wealth management to be their best and find their passion to make a difference,” says Pingenot, adding, “I absolutely love what we do!”

Responses from Anne Shumadine, founder and chairman; Susan Colpitts, CPA and executive vice president; and Amanda Gift, vice president at Signature Financial Management in Norfolk, Va., revealed that all of Signature’s relationship managers are women! So it’s not surprising that they speak to women-run investment clubs and participate in industry groups that encourage women to enter the profession.

In Middleburg, Va., Helen Modly, EVP of Focus Wealth Management Ltd., serves on the board of directors for the National Capital Area Chapter of the FPA and is working with other professional women to develop a local “Women’s Resource Group” for networking, professional development and expanding career opportunities for women in the investment industry.

Sandra Field, CEO of Asset Planning Inc. in Cypress, Calif. says both men and women clients love that the firm–which boasts four CPAs and two CFPs–is all-women! “Men want their wives to be comfortable with a woman advisor on their passing, so they won’t be taken advantage of,” Field explains. Asset Planning mentors interns in financial planning from area colleges; two have become employees. In addition to speaking to women’s groups including WISE: Women Investing Security Education, Field was part of a panel doing live money “makeovers” before an audience of 300 in Orange County.

The reasons why women become financial advisors are, of course, as varied as each individual. But a couple of responses touched a very personal nerve.

“I became part of this business because my parents were going through a divorce, and my mom had never dealt with finances before,” says Megan Brozowsky, a wealth manager at Regent Atlantic in Morristown, N.J. “My career began by helping my mom to empower herself and start over again at the age of 55. I now have a focus on helping women understand their finances and putting them in control.”

When Patricia P. Houlihan began her financial planning career more than 27 years ago, her mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, “and my sisters and I knew someone in the family needed to understand the basics of handling financial matters.” Ever since, Houlihan–now president of Houlihan Financial Resource Group in Reston, Va.–has “tried to help women take charge of their financial lives send make better decisions around money and investing.”

And who can forget their first client?

“My mom was my first client after my dad passed on,” Carolyn S. Bishop recalls. “I found that I had a soft spot for the unique challenges many women of all ages face in understanding their finances and financial decision-making.” Bishop, who is director of financial planning at Partnervest Financial Group in Oxnard, Calif., finds it especially rewarding to see women become empowered and confident by the knowledge they gain. “I do believe I bring a unique understanding to the financial advisory process because of that very early experience with my mom,” she adds.