Sallie Krawcheck, Former Head of Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management, Says Women Still Under-represented in Wall Street C-Suites

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Former President of Bank of America's Global Wealth Management, Sallie Krawcheck, told SIFMA's annual conference in New York this week that the past 25 years haven't seen much in the way of progress for women executives.

Krawcheck said that despite all the programs and diversity initiatives underway since the late 1980s, women on Wall Street seem unable to move beyond the 15 percent of senior management level or 15 percent of corporate boards. She says "one thing the programs did was to keep women busy." And she admitted that at a recent college speaking event, she almost wanted to apologize to students and to say "I'm sorry" for not doing more.

Still considered one of Wall Street's most powerful women, Krawcheck said the lack of diversity problem actually goes beyond gender or color. She says that as far as she's concerned, Wall Street has been operating within a "culture crisis" in which companies tend to select only those who share their values and views instead of hiring people who would provide a broader range of perspectives.

Major Challenge to Wealth Management

Speaking at the annual conference of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, Krawcheck also said that there is a major challenge facing the wealth management industry because while clients "like, trust and admire their financial advisors," they don't like the institutions they work for.

She also noted that women and younger people are still being underserved by the wealth management industry, noting the average age of a client is approximately 62 years old. Krawcheck says younger prospects, frightened off by recent scandals and market volatility, simply don't trust the industry. "We have to earn their trust."

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