Outside-IN

Adding diversity: A man's eye view of a women's conference

Exploring the role men should take to boost women in advice

May 11, 2018 @ 12:02 pm

By Randy Bruns

I was asked to attend the 2018 InvestmentNews Women Adviser Summit in Chicago on May 2. I cautiously accepted, not sure what I was getting myself into.

What do hundreds of the nation's top female financial planners talk about when they get together? I was definitely interested to find out, as were many of my male counterparts. Here are five key points I gathered from the day:

1. Feeling out of place as a white male at a financial planning conference was eye-opening. This was true even for a social butterfly like me. I knew upon arrival that I needed to mingle but instead found myself sipping coffee in a corner while flipping through my phone. Then something really cool occurred. Other attendees began introducing themselves and asking about me, my practice, my family, etc. What an awesome feeling this was!

2. Women are not looking to supplant men as the dominant gender in financial planning. They're simply finding their rightful place at the table. Not only have women been shown to be superior investors, they also stand to inherit a massive chunk of the nation's wealth in the coming years. It therefore makes perfect sense that financial services firms should want a better gender balance in their ranks. Kudos to the numerous employers that sent small armies of planners to this year's conference. You're doing your part to advance the profession.

Advisory professionals
Women men
60% Three-year personal revenue increase 50%
4.6 Number of marketing activities used 3.3
6.2 Number of client-facing technology strategies used 4.5
40% Amount of time spent on practice management 28%
60% Percent outsourcing at least one investment management activity 60%
Source: InvestmentNews Research and Advisor Group report, "Defining the 'Female Effect' on Advice," May 2018

3. Minorities are still largely missing from the financial planning profession. To my surprise, there were more men in attendance at this year's Women Adviser Summit than African-Americans. A few panelists made the point that, although this conference highlighted women in financial planning, the job inequalities facing minorities cannot be overstated. I couldn't agree more. I don't know how we remedy this, but it needs to happen.

4. Men, you can attend women's adviser conferences, too! In fact, I'd strongly encourage you to do just that. This one was excellent, the networking was invaluable and the lines for the bathroom were super short! It's important that we keep this dialogue going, and we men need to be part of it. I'm so grateful to InvestmentNews for the opportunity to attend, and to all the women who made me feel so welcome. I'm incredibly proud to share this profession with all of you.

5. Finally, women are real life superheroes. During the conference, I received a text message from my wife that our Australian shepherd had cut herself badly and needed an emergency trip to the vet. My wife lifted all 60 pounds of Daisy into our SUV, gathered up our 16-month-old daughter and all that comes with her, and kept them both occupied for over an hour in a waiting room at the vet. Did I mention my wife is six months pregnant? The things women do every day are nothing short of amazing.

Randy Bruns is a wealth adviser with HighPoint Planning Partners and president of the Financial Planning Association of Illinois.

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