"I get a lot of personal satisfaction through helping younger women I meet within the industry, and I end up learning something from every one of them, too."

— Erica McGinnis

Erica%20McGinnis Erica%20McGinnis

Erica McGinnis

President and CEO, AIG Advisor Group

"The key to my success," said Erica McGinnis, president and CEO, AIG Advisor Group, "is that I've always raised my hand and always said yes. Even when I was afraid, I couldn't pass up an opportunity. I'd tell myself: 'I'm going to work very hard to figure this out.'"

She has faced her fears and made others notice her.

"I've worked for four firms, and my last three jobs were not posted," she said. "Either I was tapped on the shoulder or I raised my hand. My dad and my husband have nudged me a lot. They have been role models and mentors and, early on, forced me to speak up and ask for a raise."

Ms. McGinnis said another reason for her success is her willingness to get on stage and speak, often in front of thousands.

"The whole notion of honing your speaking skills — it helps develop your executive presence," she said.

One of the showcases for her speaking talents is AIG's annual conference for female advisers, the W Forum. The growth and enthusiasm for the event impressed Ms. McGinnis and, deciding it was time for a "women's movement," launched the Women FORWARD program three years ago.

There are four areas of focus: growth (business or personal); recruiting female advisers; giving back and working with female clients.

The first phase of activities includes mentoring and education programs. About 100 women have participated already.

Men are not being excluded, however.

"Men who volunteer to be mentors are invited to the conference. They have a great time," she said. "They can learn how women want to receive financial advice, and to how to connect better with female clients overall."

— Deborah Nason

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