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Opinion: A call for female financial advisers

Industry Insight

Posted online

There are many industries where the number of males outnumbers the females in the workforce, and the financial services business is no different.

While it is true the financial services profession comprises primarily men, I firmly believe the numbers are changing the trajectory for our future. It is difficult to get an exact number, but we see estimates that show women represent as low as 14 percent of the total number of advisers and brokers. However, some estimates also show that as many as 28 percent of new advisers – people just coming into the business – are female.

Recent numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics are even more encouraging, with roughly a third of personal financial advisers being female.

I chose this profession because I wanted to help people. I also had a knack for breaking down complex financial topics and making them relatable, especially to women.

Women might find it more comforting to speak openly to another woman about money. I’ve been in their shoes and understand how personal this matter can be. In fact, my grandmother came to me for financial advice – because who better to trust than your own blood? She didn’t understand why her certificate of deposit interest kept fluctuating each month.

My grandmother was a smart lady, but she didn’t know the right questions to ask until I explained to her the statement was actually from a mutual fund company. I further informed her the account was not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., so her monthly check would continue to fluctuate based on changing market conditions. My grandmother purchased the investment from a male adviser at her local bank, and she swore that it was a CD. Now, I don’t believe the adviser was trying to manipulate or swindle my grandmother, but I do believe the transaction was poorly communicated between both parties.

Sadly, this happens a lot. A female adviser might have made a greater impact in the initial meeting. Studies show that female advisers often communicate a sense of caring and effective listening to their clients. I’ve found when interacting with a female investment adviser, female investors are more inclined to ask questions, they collaborate more during their meetings and they feel they’ve been taught or mentored through the planning process.

One of the barriers to entry for some women is the myth that you need to be a math genius to be a financial adviser. Sure, being good at math helps, but being good at relationship building is even more important. It also is one of the main reasons I spend a lot of time presenting workshops on financial topics to corporations, health systems, churches and other organizations. I’m also a member of Women in Insurance and Financial Services – a national organization devoted to the success of women in the insurance and financial services fields. I currently serve as the organization’s national education director.

That broader work tells me the need for female professionals in this industry has never been greater than right now. Don’t be afraid to step into this world, because it can become a very fruitful career both financially and personally. Nothing is more gratifying than reaching your full potential by defining success your way and challenging the status quo.

Lisa Jones is managing director with Prime Capital Investment Advisors LLC in Springfield. She can be reached at ljones@primecap-ia.com.

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