Help Wanted: Finding and Supporting More Women Financial Advisors (Barron’s Advisor)
When Nilia Gasson started her financial-services career in Miami in the late 1980s, she was one of the only young, female Hispanic employees at Southeast Bank Brokerage. For years, she was bypassed for a promotion, she says, and only got her break when her Spanish-language skills became desirable to serve a new wave of wealthy Latin American investors.
About 20 years later, when Elizabeth Weikes was starting her advisory career, women still faced major hurdles. “I would walk into the room, and if I was with a male counterpart, they just automatically assumed I was the person there to take notes,” Weikes says.
As September edges out the last vestiges of summer, ushering in a return to the office for many wealth management firms, Barron’s Advisor takes stock of the state of women in the wealth management industry—what’s working, what’s not, and where opportunities for improvement lie.
Women still represent less than a third of financial advisors, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The pandemic may have eroded some of the meager advances made in recent decades. Although no figures were available for financial advisors specifically, a whopping 29% of women in financial services left their job permanently during the pandemic, with nearly a third of those who left citing increased caregiving duties, according to an Accenture study.
“Since the pandemic has happened, they have greater responsibilities now with elder care, childcare, and home care, in addition to their work,” says Ann Olivarius, founding partner of McAllister Olivarius, a law firm specializing in race and gender discrimination.
Now more than ever, firms that fail to adequately support the needs of their female advisors heading into the postpandemic world will struggle to attract and retain a key talent pool—with serious long-term repercussions. By 2030, women are expected to control much of the $30 trillion currently possessed by baby boomers—and over half of them prefer working with a female advisor, McKinsey found.