Why wealth management firms are hiring more women

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Throughout the history of financial services, and for various reasons, most financial professionals have been men. Across the industry, males outnumber females by three, four, or sometimes five to one in certain categories. In general, the financial services industry is woefully lacking in women professionals. But today, the confluence of a variety of factors is leading to new opportunities for women in the booming area of wealth management.

Today, Wall Street firms are doing all they can to find and recruit women financial advisors, and for very good reasons:

  • Women own more than half the nation's wealth and represent nearly half of all affluent investors. Advances in education, employment and earnings have created more wealth being owned and managed by women, soon to represent more than $15 trillion in assets according to estimates.
  • The number of widows and female divorcees is on the rise, and financial advisors must be attuned to deal with these problems of transition
  • And, perhaps most importantly, one out three women, according to a 2010 study, said they preferred working with a female wealth advisor.

The fact that women have outnumbered men among college graduates for more than 20 years is one reason the female talent pool is rich and continues to expand.

While women represent 50 percent of investors and more than 50 percent of new small business owners, they comprise just 10-12 percent of the financial advisors in the U.S. Keeping with that ratio, only about 1 in 10 of Barron's top 100 FAs in the country is a woman.

Filling a need

So the market clearly has some catching up to do to satisfy the needs of its clients. To meet this growing need, financial services firms and planners have aggressively recruited female candidates. Their efforts have met with some success. Female hiring, while still a fraction of male recruitment, has been rising over the past 10 years.

Among the talents women bring with them is relationship building skills required in the new wealth management order. But what intrigues many financial firms as much, if not more, is other research that suggests women produce more revenues than their male counterparts, at least in the early years of a relationship.

Attractive to women

Women already in the industry like it because once you have an established practice, you can dial your career up or down according to the demands of your life, family and passions, without leaving the workforce.

To find opportunities to get in the door, look for events hosted by the larger firms. These are often not just good networking opportunities, but are in reality thinly disguised recruiting events. The larger firms in particular have begun organizing events that bring professional and like-minded women together, both for their own financial advisors and for potential recruits.

Robert Namar is CEO of NAMARketing News, and a Wall Street veteran consulting for a number of financial services firms