LIFT University, a new program designed to bring women into the financial advisory field, was launched at the seventh annual Ladenburg Institute of Women & Finance Symposium. The event, held in Dallas, hosted more than 200 total attendees for networking, thought leadership and business development sessions targeted toward female advisors while also honoring excellence in the profession.

LIWF, which advocates innovative ways to increase the number of women in the independent financial advice space, also supports the professional growth of female advisors through educational programs on best practices for serving clients, managing teams and growing their businesses.

LIFT University brings female business students and daughters of Ladenburg IAB-affiliated financial advisors who are considering careers in the financial advice profession to the symposium, providing travel and lodging costs and pairing them with experienced female advisors for the duration of the event. The goal is to help them gain exposure to critical industry concepts, begin building professional networks and develop an inside perspective on a career in financial advice.

Ten business majors attended the inaugural edition of LIFT University, including students from the University of Georgia, the University of Central Missouri, Southern Methodist University and Texas Women’s University.

“As more women take on roles as financial decision makers, breadwinners and heads of their households, the financial advice industry must evolve to better reflect this audience and create solutions that meet their specific needs,” Jaime Desmond, chief operating officer of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management and chairwoman of LIWF’s steering committee, said in a statement.

Desmond added, “Hiring, training and bringing together more women advisors is a major aspect of accomplishing that goal. Firms that make these strides will act as a positive force for change in society while also benefiting from the natural advantage that women advisors have in connecting with and understanding the concerns of female clients.”