One year ago, Ken Fisher sent the wealth management industry into a tizzy when he made inappropriate comments about women at a Tiburon Strategic Advisors conference in San Francisco.
The flood gates opened and an industry-wide movement ignited about how women are treated in business, and the general lack of equality and diversity. The message was clear: Enough is enough.
However, when we take a look at tangible change between now and then, we have to face facts: not much has changed. There remains a genuine interest to diversify wealth management with not only female talent, but talent of all shades and sizes.
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But in reality, it’s a lot of talk without much walk. And that’s not getting us anywhere fast.
Change is hard, but even worse is that it’s slow. McKinsey reports that female representation on US and UK-based executive teams only rose from 15% in 2014 to 20% in 2019.
More than a third of the companies in their global study still have no women at all on their executive teams. From their global data set, gender diversity improved just a measly one percentage point — from 14% in 2017 to 15% in 2019.
Although the lack of tangible results is frustrating, it’s worth acknowledging what the wealth management industry is doing: unraveling decades of a systemically sexist and racist mindset and business practices that are hard to reverse in a few short years. We’re challenging ourselves to face the cold hard facts and hold ourselves accountable.
Advisor Group is a great example of a company that is living the mindset: their board and senior leadership have a healthy mix of men and women. Their award-winning “Women Forward” initiative is successful not just because they have it, but because they’re living it.
In addition, XY Planning Network announced at the XYPNLive(ish) conference their partnership with the Association of African American Financial Advisors (AAAA). XYPN will cover the cost for all XYPN members who would like to join AAAA, providing them access to AAAA’s tools and resources to elevate their roles in financial services.
In broader financial services industry news, JP Morgan announced a $30 billion commitment to address wealth inequality in underserved communities with loans, philanthropy, and accountability on the executive level.
This is significant and will hopefully translate into meaningful change tomorrow.
But today, it’s rhetoric. If change is going to happen, we have to be comfortable with the fact that asking mature businesses and industries to adjust is hard and painful — and it’s not going to be fast.