Confidence impacts career success for women in the financial services industry, according to a survey from Edward Jones.

Nearly 80% of female financial advisors attending the first-ever Edward Jones Women’s Conference said confidence was one of the biggest factors that affect leadership, success and fulfillment in a career. 

The survey of 100 top-earning financial advisors, which was conducted from Feb. 17 to 19 during the conference, also found that half of those surveyed said confidence was the single most important tool in career advancement.

“Confidence in one’s ability to succeed plays a critical role when it comes to career success,” said Katherine Mauzy, principal of Financial Advisor Talent Acquisition at Edward Jones, in a statement.

Besides confidence, the survey examines what tools other women deem the most important.

According to the survey, 25% said having a mentor or sponsor is the most important tool to advance one’s career, 15% said hard work and accomplishments, 9% said having a professional network and 1% said having an advanced degree.

The survey finds that age plays a role in these women’s’ views on the importance of confidence, with more older women crediting confidence as a career advancement tool. According to the survey, 66% of those over age 64 said confidence is the most empowering tool for career advancement, compared to about half of those age 45 to 63 and 29 to 44.

Interestingly, all women in the youngest group (age 18 to 28) instead chose mentorship/sponsorship as the most important tool to advance their career.

The survey finds there are some inconsistencies in participants’ views on female representation and advancement opportunities in financial services.

A large majority of the women surveyed (85%) agreed or strongly agreed that strides have been made to advance women in their careers. Meanwhile, 77% also agree or strongly agree that barriers to career advancement continue exist for women in the field, which according to Edward Jones suggests “a continued industry challenge.”

“The financial services industry as a whole has been working to increase female representation, however a lot more can be done to ensure that women are backed with the tools and resources to promote and instill confidence,” Mauzy said in a statement. “As a firm, we are taking steps to enable and support our female financial advisors through dedicated training programs and women’s networks.”

Women currently represent 19% of Edward Jones’ 14,500 financial advisors, relative to just 14% of female financial advisors in the industry, according to Cerulli Associates.

There have been other studies in recent years that have also pointed to the disparity in confidence among men and women.

A 2011 survey from the Institute of Leadership and Management asked British managers how confident they feel in their professions.

Half of the female respondents reported self-doubt about their job performance, compared with fewer than one-third of male respondents.

“This relative lack in confidence has caused some women to decline career advancement opportunities and delay their promotions, as noted within Edward Jones’ survey,” according to Edward Jones.

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