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Meet the 2021 IA25: VIPs Pushing Advisors Forward

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This year’s IA25 focuses on advisors, experts and leaders in financial services who are pushing the industry forward.

Their work encompasses diversity and inclusion, as well as programs to support younger professionals and expand the ways advisors operate and charge for their services. These efforts are taking place today in tandem with a number of other changes affecting the industry — such as the growing importance of cryptocurrencies.

At the same time, the 2021 IA25 list includes a number of subject-matter experts who are drilling down into other day-to-day topics critical to today’s advisors and clients, like retirement planning.

With the many changes the pandemic has entailed and a new administration in Washington, issues around taxation, trusts, and estate and related planning have become more important to the industry than in the recent past.

We are proud to present this year’s list of IA25 honorees and several honorable mentions. Many of them are working hard to help the wealth management industry better reflect the demographics of the U.S. population it serves.

Today, less than 4% of certified financial planners are people of color, and less than 24% are women. In its latest sustainability report, Goldman Sachs said just 3.2% of its 1,548 U.S. executives, senior officials and managers — 24 men and 25 women — are Black. Overall, Black individuals make up 6.8% of Goldman’s U.S. workforce.

At Morgan Stanley, only 37 out of 1,705 leaders — about 2.2% — are Black, according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile at Bank of America, there are 201 Black senior executives, which represent 4.7% of 4,191 firmwide in the U.S.

New Recognition Program

We also want to call out the efforts of past IA25 winners, many of whom we weren’t able to include as we made room for new industry VIPs. Choosing a limited number of honorees is extremely difficult.

There are, of course, so many industry professionals bringing tremendous innovation and integrity to the world of financial advice each day.

We encourage all advisors, industry executives, firms and other groups to nominate themselves and their peers for ThinkAdvisor’s new broader, more expansive recognition program — The LUMINARIES, which is accepting nominations online through May 17.

The Runners-Up

The five-member Securities and Exchange Commission has three female commissioners: two Democrats, Caroline Crenshaw and Allison Herren Lee, as well as Republican Hester Peirce. Also busy in Washington is the director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America, Barbara Roper, who stands ready to praise or criticize rules coming from the SEC and other regulators.

Working behind the scenes, often in cooperation with retirement expert Michael Finke, is Jason Fichtner, the associate director of the Master of International Economics and Finance Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, who served in several key positions at the Social Security Administration.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has maintained near-zero interest rates underpinning a record rally in stocks, which is why Wall Street is so focused on when the Fed may reverse its lower-for-longer rate strategy and reduce its monthly $120 billion purchases of U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities. 

Janet Yellen, Powell’s predecessor at the Fed, is now the first female secretary of the Treasury. She has the responsibility for the U.S. economic recovery and getting relief to those who need it most.