Advancing an industry

Action steps to accelerate the advancement of women in the financial advice industry.

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Advancing an industry

Action steps to accelerate the advancement of women in the financial advice industry

By IN Research — March 12, 2018

The numbers and the needs have all been well-documented in recent years: While women comprise 51% of the overall US population – and are soon expected to control an estimated $22 trillion in wealth – they still represent a distinctly small portion of the gradually shrinking population of financial advisers.

In an industry where 8 out of 10 advisers are male, and even fewer hold executive roles, role models are scarce and current and future generations of women have a limited view of leadership opportunities.

While there are early indications of progress in recent years, why is gender diversity still such a substantial challenge for the advice industry?

Having a strategy for bringing more women into the financial advice industry can provide both short- and long-term benefits to a firm's bottom line. Research, such as a recent global study from The Peterson Institute for International Economics, has found that companies with women leadership positions can improve overall financial performance and success. At the same time, having a balance of men and women within an organization can create a culture of diverse viewpoints and skills – while also improving a firm's ongoing ability to attract diverse talent.

Need more reasons? Participants in our Think Tanks, which consisted of some of the most successful women in the financial advice industry, cited dozens of quantitative and qualitative benefits that resulted from having more diverse organization:

Women often embrace a collaborative leadership style, which can translate to more inclusive, team-oriented cultures

Current and future clients want to be able to identify with a firm's leaders, advisers and employees

Having women in leadership roles allows a firm to more effectively recruit other women – and ultimately develop younger generations of women who need to “see it to be it”

Important female skill sets, such as problem-solving, empathy and active listening are critical to building trust and growing client relationships

The business model of financial advice continues to evolve, transitioning from a transactional to a more relationship and advice-centric model – which directly aligns with many women advisers' strengths, skills and goals

Having a mix of both male and female leaders and advisers frequently surfaces diverse viewpoints, which can lead to more thoughtful and improved outcomes

Women are now awarded roughly 50 percent more master's degrees than men – which will present advisory firms that embrace diversity with a competitive advantage in the future battle for talent

Despite these benefits, the industry is still stymied by two core challenges: While many firms are engaging with the notion of hiring women, the candidate pool – and general interest in the profession among women – remains limited. At the same time, in order to grow the number of women in leadership positions, we must also increase the number of women in the industry. To do this, a collective effort is needed to present strategic solutions that allow women to overcome some of the most common obstacles impeding their ongoing development.


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