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Top Women in WealthTech 2020: Miriam Manning of Commonwealth Financial

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Accomplishment(s): Assisting Commonwealth Financial Network with successfully launching its Fintech spinout, Advisor360°, while maintaining and building out a thriving Technology department within the RIA-B/D.

While Advisor360° is focused on a fully unified suite of tools that helps financial advisors serve their clients and grow their books of business, the Commonwealth Technology team is focused on indispensable service to our advisors and delivering intuitive and integrated back-office tools.

This dedication is why we are ranked #1 in overall satisfaction among independent advisors by J.D. Power for the sixth straight time. I credit this success to defining a clear IT vision, strategy, and roadmap, as well as to empowering a great team of technology leaders.

How to get more women into WealthTech: Women today are earning more and exerting greater financial influence as clients, and research has revealed that diverse leadership strengthens organizations. There has never been a better time for women to be part of WealthTech and innovation in financial services.

I would encourage more women to apply regardless of whether they have the “perfect” background. Some may believe that to work in WealthTech, one must possess a strong technical and financial background. While these skills are in high demand, someone who can think critically and who possesses strong problem-solving and leadership skills is just as strong a candidate.

In addition, organizations can invite more women into their workforce by being intentional with job postings. We can encourage more women to apply by expressing interest in candidates excited about the opportunity and willing to learn, even if they may not be the perfect fit on paper.

Advice for those starting out: Build relationships and collaborate early on in your career. While networking can feel uncomfortable and time consuming, it offers a wealth of opportunities, as well as the chance for growth. Bring along a friend or colleague to make it less daunting.

Given the rapid pace of change in technology, it’s important to view the technology learning curve as perpetual and to lead with the mindset of a lifelong learner. You will continually add value to your organization this way.

Life is short, and we spend a lot of time in the workplace, so treat everyone with respect, bring your sense of humor to work with you, and try to be cognizant of your legacy and the lasting impression you will have on other people.

One aspect of Commonwealth that I’ve found to be truly inspiring is the emphasis the company places on treating everyone with respect.

Take the time to travel and work abroad, particularly early in your career when you have fewer personal commitments. This forces you to step outside your comfort zone and helps broaden your perspective.

Originally from Ireland, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in Ireland, England, Germany, Australia, and the U.S., which exposed me to different working styles and ways of doing business. It gave me the chance to develop cross-cultural communication skills.

Take risks, particularly early in your career when you have time to recover. Should you fail, it provides a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow. Just remember not to dwell on it or repeat your mistakes.

Sources of insights and inspiration: There is a wealth of material, conferences, and podcasts available today to help others gain valuable industry knowledge, with topics ranging from what’s trending in the advisory and advisory technology spaces all the way to leadership and security intelligence.

From a security perspective, the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) is a valuable source for real-time global financial industry cyber and physical threat intelligence.

For overall business and leadership content, I like the “Harvard Business Review” podcast. I turn to experts such as Michael Kitces and “The Wall Street Journal” for specific industry and FinTech related information around the advisory business, and I tune into TED Talks frequently for inspiration.


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