What draws women advisers to certain IBDs

Mentoring, education, part-time opportunities among the lures for female advisers

May 5, 2015 @ 12:46 pm

By Liz Skinner

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Some independent broker-dealers are finding extraordinary success in the industry's efforts to level the ranks of male and female advisers, even though on average less than one out of every five advisers today is a woman.

Transamerica Financial Advisors boasts about 33% female advisers, compared with an industry average of 18%, according to data collected from 41 independent broker-dealers by InvestmentNews for its 2015 special report on independent broker-dealers.

The St. Petersburg, Fla.-based firm has a strong program for women advisers called the TFA Women's Initiative Network, which provides education, mentoring and networking opportunities several times a year. The firm also has a division that recruits and trains advisers who work part-time, and that's been popular with women who have family commitments, said George Chuang, president of TFA.

ADDITIONAL SKILL SETS

“Female advisers have some additional skill sets that are different from male advisers,” Mr. Chuang said. “They also are better at client segmentation and are able to interface with client bases that have been underserved, such as divorcees, widows and caregivers.”

Mr. Chuang said TFA hosts the special education sessions, lunches and anything else it can think of “to make sure women advisers recognize how important they are to us.”

At Triad Advisors, about 28% of the advisers are female, and they can partake in a specific mentoring program with other women advisers.

In addition, women advisers with the Norcross, Ga.-based boutique firm, which focuses on serving hybrid advisers, can participate in the Ladenburg Institute of Women & Finance conferences, networking and training programs. Ladenburg Thalmann is the parent of Triad Advisors and four other broker-dealers.

“The personalized and nourishing service culture we build at Triad naturally attracts a diverse mix of financial advisers, including many female advisers who tend to be more relationship driven,” said Nate Stibbs, executive vice president for national business development.

'MOST IMPRESSIVE GROWTH POTENTIAL'

Women advisers have been underserved by the industry and are a segment “with the most impressive growth potential,” he said.

(More: Largest independent broker-dealers enjoy double-digit revenue growth)

About one in four advisers with Investment Centers of America are women and the firm specifically targets women advisers with its recruiting, said Jim Komoszewski, senior vice president at the Bismarck, N.D.-based company.

“ICA is a client-first type of firm and female advisers do an amazing job of putting clients first,” he said.

Since 2011, the firm's holding company National Planning Holdings, has hosted an annual women's adviser conference geared towards industry issues that females struggle with the most when trying to grow their businesses, he said.

The firm also has an in-house marketing department that works with advisers, male or female, on branding, or focusing on a particular niche, such as divorcees or widows, Mr. Komoszewski said. That has been especially popular with the firm's female advisers.

Jennifer Strong, founder of Strong Financial Network, has used ICA for 17 of her years in the industry. She describes a culture where she has a lot of support from other advisers and where she can call Greg Gunderson, who is the firm's chief executive and president, and he calls back.

CULTURE PLAYS A BIG PART

“The biggest thing is the culture,” Ms. Strong said. “Whether you're male or female, it's very much like a family, with a lot of sharing of ideas and applauding of each other's successes.”

At Cadaret, Grant & Co., about 26% of its advisers are women.

The Syracuse, N.Y.-based firm does not have specialized programs for women advisers, but two of its original four founders were women and it's always had women in its top management structure, said Arthur Grant, its chief executive and one of the founders.

“We don't do anything unique for women advisers because if we did, it would be saying there are unique differences to women that need a special response,” Mr. Grant said. “We try and do a lot of special things for everyone.”

(More: Client demand for simpler technology challenges independent broker-dealers)

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