Making wealth management a woman-friendly field

Nicola Wealth enables women advisors to balance their career and family life, says Danielle Skipp, managing director for Ontario

Making wealth management a woman-friendly field

Over its 27 years in the financial services industry, Nicola Wealth has been adept at balancing its clients’ investment portfolios as well as promoting gender equity in the workplace. In an interview with James Burton, Danielle Skipp, the company’s Ontario managing director and chief legal officer, talks about the policies that have empowered female professionals there to balance their professional and family responsibilities. 

One of WPC’s 5-Star Leading Women in Wealth for 2021, Skipp started out as a lawyer in Vancouver, but pursued a different path after projecting how her career would progress in 10 to 15 years. She moved to Toronto to search for opportunities in banking and finance, and found greater fulfillment in the wealth management space.

Skipp points out that since it started as a small team around 25 years ago, Nicola Wealth has consistently championed gender diversity. 

“[If] you look back at our numbers over the years and as we’ve grown, we’ve always had a wonderful [gender balance],” she says, noting how diversity naturally pervades nearly every area of the firm. That includes the senior leadership team, operations, and the advisory side of the business, which is appreciated by clients.

One policy to empower Nicola Wealth’s women advisors and ensure a flexible environment is an arrangement where a colleague temporarily takes over the work of a woman who is on maternity leave. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, women advisors also had the flexibility to leave the office early to pick up their children from school, and then return in the evening to attend to unfinished tasks. To keep up the conversation about gender diversity, the company plans to launch a “women’s lead series” focusing on relevant programs and content.

Knowing the opportunities that are available to young professionals, Skipp encourages them to pivot their careers and look for the kind of work they enjoy. Those who enter the wealth space, she added, would do well to keep earning technical experience and qualifications through finance courses.

“There are many other aspects to the wealth business … depending on what your natural skills are, what your interests are. Go out and speak to as many people as you can, not just the client-facing professionals – maybe the people behind the scenes that might be in operations or in marketing or in fund administration or in portfolio management,” she says.

As far as Nicola Wealth’s future is concerned, Skipp is optimistic that organic growth outside of British Columbia will continue due to satisfied clients who have moved across the country and brought referrals to the firm.