Twenty-two women were recognized for their contributions to the financial advice industry on Wednesday at InvestmentNews' third annual Women to Watch luncheon.
Peggy Ruhlin, the chief executive of Budros Ruhlin & Roe, accepted the Alexandra Armstrong Award for Lifetime Achievement and encouraged all the women in the room to "dream big, then make it happen."
Ms. Ruhlin is perhaps best known for engineering the merger of the Institute of Certified Financial Planners and the International Association for Financial Planning to create what is known today as the Financial Planning Association.
She's also known as an advocate for women in finance. At Budros Ruhlin & Roe, Ms. Ruhlin has pushed the firm to hire and develop female professionals, and serve female clients.
"Her forward-looking approach and get-it-done attitude, along with the numerous major accomplishments she has spearheaded, are among the many reasons Peggy is our lifetime achievement award honoree this year," said Suzanne Siracuse, publisher of InvestmentNews.
In accepting the award, Ms. Ruhlin thanked her colleagues and raised a toast to her family, saying she lives by the motto, "Nothing is more important than family."
As part of the award, InvestmentNews donated $5,000 to the Foundation for Financial Planning, a charity selected by Ms. Ruhlin.
This year's Women to Watch included a new "Rising Star" award to honor an emerging leader and role model for next-generation advisers: Rianka Dorsainvil, the founder of Your Greatest Contribution, a fee-only financial planning firm.
"Being the first at anything is pretty scary. It means you are setting the stage and foundation for those to come after you," Ms. Dorsainvil said. "To the ladies in the audience who will also be the first at something — being the first means you look at the 10-letter word 'impossible' and change it to 'I'm possible.'"
Before the luncheon, the 2017 honorees joined honorees from 2015 and 2016 for a discussion on how to improve financial literacy for women of all ages. The goal was to identify some small changes that could make a difference in the world if embraced by many, such as introducing high school students to financial planning as a career opportunity.
Caitlyn Gimler, a student at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, told the group that a personal finance class at her high school, which was created thanks to a donation from Pershing CEO Mark Tibergien, helped inspire her to pursue a career in financial planning instead of law.
Ms. Gimler said that none of the girls at her high school had named finance or even business when asked what they want to do in life, and she thinks programs like Women to Watch could change that.
"Having women in this career is really important," she said. "It's up to us to do something about that. We have the resources to do it."