Every woman recognized has made a lasting impact on the industry. They are not only distinguished leaders at their firms, they have demonstrated a commitment to promoting the next-generation financial advisers, especially women, to follow the trail they blazed.
Karen Schaeffer, co-founder and managing member of Schaeffer Financial, accepted the Alexandra Armstrong Lifetime Achievement Award for playing an integral role in shaping the financial planning business into what it is today.
American Financial Consultants recruited Ms. Schaeffer away from her job as a paralegal in 1979, a time when there were plenty of brokers, CPAs and insurance salesmen, but no model for building an financial planning business.
Six years later, Ms. Schaeffer launched her own firm with her husband, Richard. She has since served as the chair of the Financial Planning Standards Board and the CFP Board, where she was instrumental in moving the organization from Denver to Washington, D.C.
As part of the award, InvestmentNews donated $5,000 to the CFP Board's Center for Financial Planning, the charity of Ms. Schaeffer's choice.
"The center of financial planning recognizes that, wait a minute, there are these women who have had these awesome careers and there aren't women coming up behind them," Ms. Schaeffer said. "There are people of color who need competent, ethical financial planning and advice and there is nobody to give it to them."
For the second year, InvestmentNews also recognized a "Rising Star," an emerging leader and role model for younger advisers. This year's award went to Rachel Moran, a senior financial planner at RTD Financial Advisors, who became a shareholder in the firm at just 29 years old.
Working with Rianka Dorsainvil, the 2017 Rising Star Award recipient, Ms. Moran co-founded a mentoring program for women graduating from Virginia Tech's financial planning program. She serves as a leader for the Financial Planning Association's NextGen initiatives, and works with millennial investors in her position at RTD Financial.
"Rachel has already demonstrated so many leadership qualities, and we expect her to be a continuous driving force in our industry," said Suzanne Siracuse, CEO and publisher of InvestmentNews.
Before the luncheon, all the 2018 honorees, as well as some Women to Watch alumni, discussed the importance of improving financial literacy to make the financial services industry more inclusive and how to raise awareness of the advice industry as both a resource and profession for future generations.
Chloe McKenzie, founder and CEO of BlackFem and On A Wealth Kick, shared her inspiring story of creating organizations dedicated to improving financial literacy and building wealth for women of color.
Though people often ask her why she focuses on young girls and not boys, the fact is that women, particularly women of color, are at a greater disadvantage, Ms. McKenzie said. And the financial advice industry has a unique opportunity to do what's right while also creating a new business.
"Right now, the market is wide open for providing girls and women of color with financial advice and financial products," Ms. McKenzie said. "If you do your part to close the wealth gap, you're also doing your part to create a completely new client base."