Investing in women's network, Sallie Krawcheck goes from advocacy to action

Female advisers see value of women-only business events

May 16, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

By Liz Skinner

Sallie Krawcheck is buying the 85 Broads women's network and plans to expand the group's empowerment goals by linking female-owned businesses with capital.

“I believe we're at a tipping point of women's engagement in the economy and our community's ability to play an important role in that is exciting as we move from advocacy of women to the smart business of real investment in women,” said Ms. Krawcheck, a former Bank of America Merrill Lynch executive.

The group, founded 16 years ago by women who worked for The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. at its former 85 Broad St. headquarters in New York, hosts networking events for women in New York office and through its 40 regional chapters and campus clubs. It has 30,000 members in about 130 countries.

For most of her career, Ms. Krawcheck has focused on “getting the job done” and tried to avoid any focus on the fact that she was a woman in business, she wrote in a blog post yesterday. But in the past year, she's thought more about how the “progress of women in business has plateaued.”

Networks like 85 Broads offer a forum for exchanging ideas and promoting information as well as boosting one's own skills and knowledge, she said. Members can “contribute to, and pull from, the network to accomplish more than the sum of the parts would indicate,” she wrote.

Many female financial advisers find the women-only events and conferences that they attend are more open and useful because women are more likely than men to talk about their failures along with their successes, both of which have business lessons.

“Men tend to want to one-up each other and women are more collaborative and willing to share,” said Rita Robbins, president of Affiliated Advisors Inc.

Ms. Robbins said she rarely attended women-only events because she doesn't want to be singled out. But after attending one three years ago, she found it much more useful for her business than sales conferences that are dominated by men.

Lori Watt, president of Investors Advisory Group LLC, said some of the early industry conferences aimed at women were "sort of fluffy," but today they often feature inspiring female speakers.

"They are a great opportunity to relate on a level with other women that you can't do when you're at some of the bigger conferences," Ms. Watt said.

Ms. Krawcheck said she and Janet Hanson, from whom she is buying 85 Broads, want to see the group grow beyond networking in the future. They said they want to make 85 Broads a place where deals get done and to provide an infrastructure where women can invest in other women-owned businesses

Ms. Hanson, one of the founders of the networking group, will retain an ownership stake in 85 Broads and become chairwoman emeritus. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

At Bank of America, Ms. Krawcheck oversaw $2.2 trillion in total client balances. Previously, she was chairwoman and chief executive of Citi Global Wealth Management and built a reputation for turning around troubled businesses. She has been named to the Forbes “World's 100 Most Powerful Women” list six times, and Fortune's “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” five times.

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