The irony is not lost on me that I, a man, am presenting the list of the 2011 AdvisorOne 50 Top Women in Wealth. I’m in that position partly by chance–former Wealth Manager editor and AdvisorOne Wealth channel editor Kate McBride did the lion’s share of the work in coordinating the activities of the nominating and deciding committee that chose this year’s honorees.
In between conducting that process and the publication of the 50 Top Women list, Kate (regrettably) left journalism to take a position at, of all things, a wealth management firm. While I was involved in the process as Kate’s manager, I was not deeply involved in the decision-making process, though I certainly weighed in with my own suggestions. (See a separate article on the process.)
One man served honorably on the committee, and as I mentioned in the lead story on the 50 Top Women, many of those women honored this year have said that men played important mentoring roles in their careers–witness Liz Ann Sonders of Schwab who told us in an interview for last year ‘s 50 Top Women that famed investor Marty Zweig and Wall Street Week’s Louis Rukeyser played crucial roles in her career.
So men have their value when it comes to fostering women’s career success in the wealth management business.
However, men have also made it more difficult for women to succeed in the business, both in outright hostility and more subtle forms of discrimination. Let’s be honest. Many men are uncomfortable with women being in positions of power. Especially in some areas of financial services where the testosterone is thick, women have been and no doubt are still being treated as second-class citizens who some men firmly believe don’t have the wherewithal to succeed in high-stress, high-producing positions. That’s just wrong. It’s also foolish. Why wouldn’t you want the best person for any job, regardless of gender (or race, creed, age, sexual orientation, etc.)?
Yes, there are signs that women are making significant strides in various areas of the business–and to me the spectrum of expertise represented by this year’s 50 Top Women is the clearest advertisement for the notion that women can succeed in nearly all areas of wealth. However, it’s still true that women make less money than men even when they have the same level of education and expertise and hold the same job. The most commonly cited statistic is that just 15% of financial advisors are women.
Women are also much more likely to move in and out of the workforce both to raise families and to be