Rebekah Kohmescher has her hands full.
As managing director and director of investment operations for Altair Advisers, she has been busy building the firm, which has $3.8 billion in assets under management.
One task on Ms. Kohmescher's plate has been to evaluate Altair's business relationship with its custodian and whether the firm should make a change. Another has been figuring out how Altair can become a sub-adviser to a '40 Act mutual fund for its clients.
Despite her responsibilities, Ms. Kohmescher has not lost focus on one goal: Figuring out some way to bring more women into the financial advice industry.
"It's very strange to have been the oldest woman at my firm since I was 26," she said. "I've had to look elsewhere for mentors."
Ms. Kohmescher is now involved in recruiting and hiring young consultants, and can't find enough female candidates to consider.
"We just hired five people on the consulting side, and it was impossible to find a qualified woman candidate. And that's when there are a lot more women in charge of hiring, and a lot would like to hire a woman."
To fight that reality, Ms. Kohmescher and Altair six years ago started a networking event in Chicago for women financial advisers, and to help younger women. She co-founded the Women's Wealth Network, and the events "have grown immensely," she said. "We now have three co-hosts from different parts of the financial services industry. The last event we had around 200 people; when we started we had 25."
She also acts as a mentor to women accounting majors in college, she said.
"The message is that firms like mine want strong, qualified women advisers, and there is no reason for women not to pursue this," she said. "The goal is to have better advice for clients. To have a diverse bench of advisers means the clients get the best fit."
— Bruce Kelly
Head of behavioral finance, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management