According to the Bank of Montreal’s Wealth Institute:
— 30% of all privately owned enterprises in the U.S. are owned by women.
— Women-owned businesses employ 7.8 million Americans.
— $14 trillion (about 51%) of American personal wealth is now controlled by women.
— Women are expected to control about $22 trillion of American personal wealth by 2020.
This should be good news for female advisors since a 2013 study by the Insured Retirement Institute revealed that 70% of women seeking financial advisors say they would prefer to work with a woman. Today, however, only three in 10 advisors are women.
When it comes to bringing more women into the business, Sybil Verch, Senior Vice President, Western Regional Manager, has a few ideas. She says women are great planners, an aspect of the business that male advisors sometimes don’t wish to focus on. Says Verch, “If male advisors don’t want to focus on the planning as much, women make great planners and can take care of that aspect and deepen the service offering.” She also says advisory groups would be wise to add women advisors to serve the growing market segment of women seeking female advisors.
There are also, of course, more reasons to have women on the financial planning team than the above statistics alone. “A woman’s life experience is inherently different than a man’s” says Maggie O’Hearn, CFP®, Financial Advisor, Integr Wealth Management of Raymond James. “Having women on a team brings a diversity of perspective you can’t get any other way.”
This “different perspective” also brings with it other advantages, according to Aimee Boggs, Senior Vice President, Investments, Boggs-Huffman Wealth Management Group of Raymond James. “You’ll respond to people in a way that a man wouldn’t, and it can work in your favor,” says Boggs. “Having a male/female team combination helps in relating with one client or another. Men and women will hear things differently, and their abilities to respond to different personalities is so greatly enhanced.”
So, what does the future hold for women in the financial planning business? Verch has an answer for that, too. And as a member of her firm’s senior leadership team, she knows how hard it is to find female advisors in this industry. But that doesn’t dissuade her from encouraging women to do more. “It’s our time,” says Verch. “But we have to be willing, ready and able to train and develop women. There’s a lack of understanding among women of what the role of financial advisor entails. They think you’ll have to be a workaholic.” That, says Verch, is a misconception that must be challenged, and only those in the industry can do that. “If you enter into this profession for the right reasons, everything will fall into place and you’ll have a happy life.”