"There has been a heightened awareness of the importance of having women on teams and in leadership roles. It is still an upward climb, but we are starting to get our due, and companies, clients and firms are taking notice."

— Karen L. DeRose

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Karen L. DeRose

President and managing partner, DeRose Financial Planning Group

"This has been a great career," said Karen L. DeRose, managing partner and founder of Chicago-based DeRose Financial Planning Group, which is affiliated with Lincoln Financial Advisors. "I'm at the point now I want to give back and mentor."

"I grew up in this business" she said.

Her father was in the insurance business and played an outsized role in her life because her mother died when Ms. DeRose was just 7 years old.

She went to work with her father in 1997. Three years later, she switched to financial planning.

"I mentored with my father and a woman who inspired me to do comprehensive planning," Ms. DeRose said.

In 2012, her son Anthony joined her. "Working with my father and working with my son — I'm so proud," she said. "This is so wonderful to come full circle."

Ms. DeRose, a big believer in mentoring, co-founded a group within Lincoln called WISE (Women Inspiring Supporting and Educating).

"We wanted a place to share best practices, inspire women to enter the industry and to provide education to female clients," she said. "Women have a different energy than men; they're better networkers. When you get them in a room, they like to share. They feel safer together."

The group was needed to grow the planner population, along with their income, Ms. DeRose said, and to inspire men to invite women into their practices.

"It's of great importance to have male and female teams and multigenerational teams," she said. "I see it in my own practice, and it's so wonderful!"

— Deborah Nason

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