Industry on the cusp of change?

The Trudeau government’s move to equality in cabinet has transferred the spotlight on to wealth management firms and their efforts, or lack thereof, to recruit more women into the financial advisor role

Hot off the new Liberal government’s cabinet announcement that 15 of the 30 ministerial jobs went to women, the spotlight turns to the powers that be in the wealth management industry. Will they follow the prime minister’s lead now that it’s 2015 and recruit more women to the financial advisor role? If they care about the bottom-line they will.
“Almost 70 percent of women in the US do not currently retain the services of a financial advisor – and for women under forty this figure is closer to 75 percent,” wrote Gloria Nelund, Chairman & CEO of TriLinc Global, a California-based investment management firm. “With fewer and fewer women utilizing traditional financial planning services, the financial services industry is missing out on a sizable market opportunity – by some estimates over $5 trillion.”
But that’s not the biggest red flag according to Nelund.
One institutional challenge may be the lack of female representation in financial services – only 30 percent of all financial advisors in the US are women,” Nelund wrote. “Yet when asked whether women prefer to work with men or women financial advisors, of those who stated a gender preference, over 70 percent selected women.”
When it comes to getting more women into the financial advisor role it’s a bit like the chicken and the egg – which comes first?
Organizations such as Women in Capital Markets [WCM] are faced with finite resources. Do they lobby the C-suites and boards of financial services firms to move them further to the middle when it comes to equality or do they focus their attention in the universities and high schools?
They do both.
“We work with institutions in two ways: trying to put pressure on them to do something but also to help them to develop initiatives that are helpful for their own organizations to implement internally,” WCM CEO Jennifer Reynolds told WP. “And then we do a lot of work around the pipeline. There’s a perception issue with our industry. We need to get younger women educated on what the jobs are and what the opportunity is.”
Established in 1995, WCM’s been at this for two decades. Progress has been made but a lot of work remains.
“We’re at that stage where leadership in our industry is really buying into the business case for gender diversity in leadership. We’ve been around for 20 years and I do think there’s been a lot of progress but we still have a long way to go, WCM CEO Jennifer Reynolds told WP. “So, now how do we fix those systemic barriers that do hold women back?”
The answers, if found, are worth billions.
To read Gloria Nelund’s entire article at Green Money e-journal, click here.