Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck is speaking out about what can be done for the financial services business to improve not only its “conference culture” but also its hiring and promotion of women.
Referring to Fisher’s analogy “that winning asset management business is akin to ‘getting in a girl’s pants,” Krawcheck says in the blog post, “[n]ot even a woman’s. A girl’s. Ick.”
The former head of wealth management at Bank of America and Citigroup added: “This is one creepy man. A creepy man whose company has been entrusted with $112 billion in client assets, for public pensions and individuals.”
While some media has emphasized “conference culture” in its coverage and the need to change it, so women “feel welcome,” she said, the issue at stake is “bigger than that: It’s about women feeling — and being — welcome not just at financial services conferences, but in the financial services industry itself.”
Krawcheck continues: “Who thinks Ken Fisher’s disrespect for women stops when he walks off stage and into his company’s headquarters? No one.”
In fact, Fisher Investments — which has seen some $3 billion in redemptions since Fisher made the remarks at a closed conference session on Oct. 9 — has an all-male senior investment team, Krawcheck points out. His executive team includes seven men and four women.
Women make up some 10% of fund managers working with just 2% of assets, and diversity in financial services seems to be getting worse — namely at the senior-management level.
In a 2015 interview with ThinkAdvisor, Krawcheck explained that after the financial crisis, “what I saw happening was a lot of ‘Geez, we should have that guy in that job because we can’t afford to take on any risk.’ We all tend to view people who are different from us as being riskier.”
In a blog post published Monday, advisor consultant Sonya Dreizler shared the stories of women in finance who have faced discrimination at work. An earlier post detailed sexual assaults at industry events.
Krawcheck said in her blog post that the industry “has been almost completely silent during the #MeToo crisis.”
She continued: “But it’s even bigger than that. Because who thinks the Ken Fishers of the world suddenly stop disrespecting women when they start making their investment and business decisions?”
Her answer: “The ripple effect of executives’ decisions can be enormous, because the financial services industry serves as the lifeblood of our economy.”
The financial services business allocates capital in ways that result in some entities with wins and others with losses — and “women have, on average, [have] lost,” according to Krawcheck, who points to the higher rates they pay for mortgage loans, for instance.
With the percentage of female advisors “stuck” at about 15% and an array of related issues, the Ellevest co-founder asks: “Who is tired of all of this state of affairs? We all should be.”