Raymond James (RJF) kicked off its 20th annual Women’s Symposium on Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Florida, celebrating with a record crowd of nearly 500 female advisors, prospective advisors, staff and educational partners. It also shared plans for several technology updates with the attending reps.
“This is the biggest symposium ever, as it should be,” said Sacha Millstone, an employee advisor with Raymond James in Boulder, Colorado, during the event’s opening session.
During the recent recession, “When we could capitalize on a great opportunity in the industry, Tom James announced the firm’s succession plans, and then CEO Paul Reilly challenged us to think very big … and make Raymond James the firm of choice for female advisors,” Millstone explained. “We are now acknowledged as the leading firm for women advisors in the industry.”
With the Raymond James Network for Women Advisors, directed by Nicole Spinelli, the firm is focused on “retaining female reps and applying skills development to foster our businesses,” the advisor noted. “Non-Raymond James female advisors know what we have to offer and that we would love to have them here.”
In fact, the number of prospects attending the symposium stands at 29 this week, up from seven in 2010. “The number of groups calling us” continues to rise, said Millstone.
In addition, close to 90 female advisors have participated in a group-coaching program, which has boosted their growth in assets under management by as much as 36% more than their peers, she adds. Plus, a one-on-one coaching program has helped more than 25 women reps grow assets by as much as 66% more than their uncoached counterparts.
A recently established program to support branch-offices staff who are not yet advisors includes 10 women, three of whom have since become FAs. The next group participating in the career-development program will number 20.
“Twenty years ago, the firm recognized it was necessary for women advisors to get together and share breakthrough experiences and moments,” said Spinelli. “That legacy continues and is growing thanks to our exceptional executive leadership.”
Advisor Judith McGee, CEO and chair of McGee Wealth Management in Portland, Oregon, spoke about how women are increasingly “using their pocketbook” to change their lives and have an impact on their communities. “Women are increasingly funding philanthropy, and over the next decade are likely to control some two-thirds of consumer wealth,” McGee said.
Other statistics are equally impressive, she says. “Women over 50 control net worth of some $19 trillion. Wow!”
For advisors, this represents an important area of business growth. “Nineteen trillion dollars means influence. Women own it, but do not yet [fully] control it,” explained McGee, “so there’s lots of opportunity there.”
To help women, especially those in transition after the loss of a spouse or the arrival of their inheritance, advisors must be “trained and skilled to manage change,” said Susan Bradley, founder of the Sudden Money Institute.
“Advisors need to ask how their clients want to receive information and recommendations and how an advisor can best support them when there are decisions to be made,” Bradley explained. “Do advisors need to use graphics in their presentations or slow down the pace of communications?”