To its credit, the financial advice industry is coming to understand the urgent need to bring more women into our profession, and is taking commendable steps to make it happen. Firms across the country are working to attract female professionals through tailored recruiting activities, mentoring programs, early outreach programs to bring college students to industry events and more.
As the rubber meets the road in this crucial endeavor, though, it’s becoming clear that a number of common and widespread misconceptions are preventing women professionals and students from exploring financial advisory careers.
As I and the other accomplished female leaders and advisors who attended the recent Ladenburg Institute of Women & Finance’s Annual Symposium discussed at the conference, we need to do more to speak to these women’s concerns to more effectively invite them into our vital and fulfilling profession
In practical terms, that means being prepared to address the following common misconceptions:
1. Financial advice is a sales job.
As the industry continues to move away from its prior focus on product sales and quotas, this notion has drifted further from reality, yet it continues to influence many women’s impressions.
We can overcome this hurdle by helping women understand that an advisor’s role is about compassion, consultation, credibility and establishing personal relationships, not some of the boiler room sales tactics that have often been associated with our space. We should be ready to dispel this misconception by providing personal experiences to show how advisors add value by learning what clients need and then work with them to help achieve their goals.
2. The industry revolves around math and analytics.
The image of the advisor as asset manager or ‘quant jockey’ is another long-outdated misconception, but it remains fixed in many women’s minds.
While analytically-inclined women can certainly pursue service models built around hands-on portfolio management, members of our industry should also emphasize the relationship-building aspects of the business: Convey the fact that advisors who are financial planners spend more time meeting with clients, analyzing and addressing their goals and meeting with centers of influence in their communities than they do crunching numbers.