CFO

As part of an initiative intended to encourage more women to enter the asset management sector, United Capital Financial Advisors is partnering for the first time with the nonprofit organization Girls Who Invest (GWI).

Through the partnership, United Capital opened its doors to two college students for a six-week paid internship that started July 8 at its Atlanta and Dallas offices as part of GWI’s Summer Intensive Program, the organizations said Wednesday. The four-week, on-campus internship was designed to provide students with hands-on experience in important financial concepts including capital asset pricing models, financial statement analysis, risk and return, the time value of money and valuation, they said.

GWI’s summer program “aligns with United Capital’s longstanding goals of bringing more voices into financial life management, whether by engaging all members of client households with gamified tools” that include MoneyMind and HonestConversations, or “empowering female career leadership and mentorship at all levels within” the United Capital team, the firm said in a statement.

This marks the first time at the enterprise level in which United Capital has partnered with an organization that caters to women in the industry, Kara Murphy, chief investment officer at United Capital and a chartered financial analyst, told ThinkAdvisor.

But United Capital “relaunched its Women’s Initiative in September 2018, and partnering with Girls Who Invest was the next step in the evolution in supporting women in the financial services and investment management industry,” she pointed out.

United Capital believes “all investors should feel more comfortable talking about their money and financial life goals,” she told ThinkAdvisor. After all, “our industry is rife with stories of male advisors focusing on market returns and projected balances,” she said.

However, she added: “Most women I’ve engaged with have much more financial life-oriented questions, like, ‘Will I be OK?’ [or] ‘Who will care for me if and when I am alone?’ It’s been shown time and time again that a broader, more diverse set of voices in an industry leads to better outcomes. So by having more women in investing roles, the industry itself will also benefit.”

When she was in school, ”I hadn’t even considered a career in investing,” recalled Murphy. “I found a job in investment very much by accident and I feel so fortunate that I did,” she said in the announcement, noting the collaboration with Girls Who Invest “fulfills a personal mission of mine to make sure that women know how exciting and rewarding a career in investing can be.” She added: “I believe the financial world will benefit from a wider pool of talent and perspectives.”

The partnership is “important to us in providing young women the exposure they need to thrive in asset management,” according to Owen Malcolm, CFA and managing director at United Capital. “Exposing them to real-world scenarios here at United Capital gives them a more holistic perspective to pursue opportunities after graduation,” he said.

GWI says it’s dedicated to increasing the number of women working in portfolio management and executive leadership careers within the asset management sector.

The organization is “on a timely and critical mission to expand gender diversity in the investment management industry,” according to Janet Cowell, its CEO. “The internship opportunities provided by United Capital will go a long way to introducing potential new career paths to young women who otherwise may not have had a chance to explore this exciting and rewarding field,” she said.

GWI’s goal is for 30% of the world’s investable capital to be managed by women by 2030, according to its website. As of now, however, less than 10% of North American mutual fund portfolio managers are women, it points out. Meanwhile, only 6% of the chief investment officers at the largest institutional U.S. money managers are female, while just 6% of senior leaders in private equity are women — and the numbers are even worse in real estate (4%) and hedge funds (3%). Asset management is far behind other fields, GWI noted, saying women represent 33% of doctors and 35% of lawyers in the U.S. (http://www.girlswhoinvest.org/)

— Check out Let Down by Her Financial Advisors, This Olympic Medalist Became One on ThinkAdvisor.