Sallie Krawcheck’s “real career” started “just shy of 30,” she said, when she became a research analyst, she told IA in an interview.
“Every firm on Wall Street rejected me. Lehman Brothers rejected me about three times. Smith Barney rejected me because they didn’t think I’d work hard. I later fired that director of research,” she said.
After a few well-publicized changes, she purchased 85 Broads, the “unfortunately named professional women’s network” of about 35,000. The network started as an informal alumni network for women who worked at Goldman Sachs — originally at 85 Broad St. in New York — but with Krawcheck at the helm, the group is expanding its focus to include education.
Networking is the “No. 1 unwritten rule of success in business,” Krawcheck said, but the organization is also educating its members so “they have the tools they need to move themselves along to make themselves more successful economically and financially.”
Getting women more economically engaged is not a “nice to do,” it’s a “smart to do,” she said. “It’s [smart] for our business over all, where about half of affluent women have unmanaged assets; the industry will increasingly lose out as this demographic gets bigger and bigger and more powerful. From a company perspective, all the research shows that more diverse leadership teams substantially outperform less diverse leadership teams. From a broader economic perspective, if women were as engaged in the economy as gentlemen are, our economy would be up to 9% larger.”
Furthermore, the industry has “gone backwards” on the diversity issue, she said. The number of female advisors has gone up and down, “but they haven’t gone meaningfully up. They bounce a little bit up, they bounce a little bit down, but they have not had a steady march upward.”
To people who might argue the industry as a whole has shrunk, she was emphatic. “No,” she said bluntly. “The number of men has gone up.”
A challenge to the industry as a whole is to avoid becoming “a victim of its own success,” Krawcheck said. “As you watch the demographic that [advisors have] served so well become a smaller part of the population and a demographic that it has done not as good a job of serving–in this case women–become more important, [the industry] risks just fading away.”