Today, clients’ needs are more complex than in any time in history. We have an aging population of baby boomers who are living longer due to improved medical advances. This population faces the fear of outliving their incomes. We have couples getting married later in life and facing college expenses for their children at the same time they are planning to retire. There is the blended family as well as second and third marriages with new children in addition to children from prior marriages. There are civil unions with same-sex couples and the sandwich generation taking care of their young children and aging parents simultaneously.
Clearly, financial planning has become very challenging. This is not taking into account taxation, estate issues, gifting, and other planning situations, not to mention the ever-evolving regulatory environment, that add to the complexity. With these changes in demographics, needs and regulation, it is more difficult to find one advisor that can provide holistic solutions and the breadth of knowledge and expertise to address all the client’s concerns. This has created the opportunity for a team approach in the financial profession, providing clients a team of professionals with different areas of specialization to provide the best solution.
The financial services recruiting process can discourage women from entering this career because they may fear commissions, long hours, and the tedious job of building a book of business through personal contacts. Women may also feel nervous that they will not have flexibility for work and life balance. In addition, building a book of business and approaching friends and family can be intimidating to some women, especially when they may lack the confidence and the knowledge to do the right thing for them when they first start out. There can be a risk of straining relationships.
Part of this happens because many managers are still recruiting to an antiquated system that is not sustainable. Cold calling has become increasingly challenging with the use of cell phones versus landlines, Do Not Call lists and caller ID. In addition, the business has become more of a relationship practice built on networking, referrals, and a focus on target markets that are more effective and sustainable for building a healthy practice. Although the business is entrepreneurial, it is not measured by the number of hours you are in the office but more on the discipline of doing the daily tasks that will generate clients and service the existing ones.
Introducing women to the career at an earlier age is critical to this aging field. Young women may find this business rewarding and the entrepreneurial aspect exciting in controlling both income and flexibility. Women can use their interpersonal skills to develop networks and provide a service model to clients that will make them more referable. Moreover, today’s millennial woman is attracted to companies and businesses that have strong values and cultures, and provide a civic service such as volunteer opportunities. The financial services industry can provide women a fulfilling career.
My partner, John Bucsek, and I started building advisor teams over 10 years ago. The initial concept was to partner financial professionals that had unique abilities that could complement each other and offset their weaknesses. Throughout the years, teams continued to evolve as they expanded by adding talented members that offered areas of specializations to enhance the practice. For women, teaming offers a great environment to flourish. Also, by working with the support of team members that market together and share prospects and clients, team members can support each other in the engagement process with the client. The female advisor has a group of team members that encourage her to succeed and will provide a team environment of learning, mentoring and on-the-job support. One of the main reasons behind the “Queen Bee Regime” was work environments where women were in male-dominated industries. The few women that moved into leadership roles become very protective of their environment, sometimes seeing other women as threats, as though there couldn’t be more than one woman. They tended not to help or support one another and sometimes were known to sabotage other women instead of helping them. Women today are becoming more aware and more supportive of each other. The new work environment is morphing because younger women coming into the work force have a different mindset. Women understand the strong support that other women can bring. We are seeing this with more awareness, women’s organizations and mentorship programs that are focused on building up women.
Our industry continues to be challenged with the shifts in demographics, regulations, laws and products that are changing so often in order to stay competitive and attractive. Advisors need to keep themselves relevant by being fluid with the changes, being involved in industry groups, researching information by doing their due diligence with products and services they recommend. Advisors need to stay current with licenses and focus on their education by obtaining accredited designations and joining study groups. Advisors need to focus on the future by understanding the impact of technology on our practice and being open to social media and other uses of technology as they become available within compliance guidelines.