Champions of diversity recognize that every effort contributes to the overall cause. As we celebrate International Women's Day with a "Balance for Better" theme, we're encouraged by the growing number of surveys correlating positive company performance with bridging the gender gap. That includes a report by McKinsey & Company that found 90 percent of financial services companies say they are committed to gender diversity.
Historically, wealth management has been a male-dominated industry. And, perhaps because it was a reflection of the gender of most investors, there were very few who challenged that status quo.
Today, the industry and the investors we work with are changing, and many in our field are committed to driving additional change through education, support and mentorship to build a strong talent pipeline and bring career opportunities to women. That is the mission of the Envestnet Institute on Campus (EIOC) Women in Wealth Management (WIWM) mentorship program, an initiative that has grown from 20 college women completing the program in 2015 to 638 today.
The dedicated women at the forefront of the initiative are a true representation of diversity, from their cultural backgrounds to their professional roles. We share a common cause and welcome the variety of opinions and interests that has helped this team nurture tomorrow's women leaders.
Life, business, the world become far more interesting when we invite others in.
Partnered with me on the team are the incredible women below, each of whom has shared her thoughts on fostering a more balanced, opportunity-rich future for women in financial services:
"I'm excited by the opportunities for the next generation. It's a competitive talent market, and we need to understand where consumers are coming from and create teams that more accurately reflect the clients they serve. Through targeted recruitment, internal task forces and advocating on behalf of our employees, we can pay it forward in the industry."
— Noreen Beaman, Chief Executive Officer, Brinker Capital
"Junior ambassadorship is mentoring times two. It's a training ground for our mentors via the sharing of knowledge and wisdom with senior industry executives who then share with their mentees. It encourages 'pay it forward' volunteerism and is gratifying in both the give and take of the dialogue we all have with each other. In the words of Margaret Mead, 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.' The WIWM board and our junior ambassadors are that small group."
— Nancy Camarata, Vice President, Manager, Managed Account Group, Neuberger Berman
"Vulnerability is at the heart of success. It's the act of being open and allowing yourself to lean into the uncomfortable. Taking risks isn't always natural for women, but to be an effective entrepreneur, you must. Should you fail, it's important to learn from it, but don't dwell on it. Having resilience and confidence in yourself is more than half the battle to achieving success."
— Lori Hardwick, Founder, Advisor Innovation Labs
"Women account for approximately 51 percent of the U.S. population and outnumber college-graduating men as well as men in the workforce. Yet we hold only about 19 percent of senior-level positions in the wealth management industry. To change that, we must educate and encourage more women to join us and help inspire the next generation of female leaders. The EIOC Women in Wealth Management mentorship program is doing just that."
— Jean Hempel, Managing Director, Enterprise Consulting, RIA Network, Envestnet
"Technology is changing our lives at near warp speed, and I can think of few industries as ripe for change as financial services. The intersection of finance and technology – fintech – is growing and moving faster every day. There are fewer entrenched structures and ideas. Now is an ideal time for women to disrupt and make a difference, and getting young women into the pipeline and supported in their careers is critical."
— Estee Jimerson, Managing Director, Head of Asset Manager Distribution, Envestnet
"Branding is about how you want to appear to the world – defining who you are and what you want to be known for and then communicating that message. It's about your reputation and the value you provide. Self-promotion is an important component of branding. Women often struggle with it, worrying we'll be viewed as bragging. That inner dialogue must change. To position for long-term success, recognize who you are and the expertise, passion and value that you bring. And make sure others know too."
— Robyn F. Pollack, Esq., CEO & Founder, Trellis Consulting
"My No. 1 tip for women seeking to re-enter the workforce? Don't discount experiences you've had outside the office. Financial services firms know that building connections with women investors is key to their future success. The power of the purse is very real. In an increasingly customer-centric world, bringing your life experience – and judgment that can be gained only over time – is of tremendous value. Seek out firms committed to bringing diversity of thought to bear in solving client problems and that also invest in essential technical or functional training. That is the power and promise of returnship programs. Go for it!"
— Tricia Rothschild, Chief Product Officer, Morningstar
"Creating a more inclusive industry for underrepresented groups is a marathon, not a sprint. Do not be disillusioned. Even with the best intentions, we cannot erase years of inequality overnight. We must be committed for the long term."
— Jocelyn Wright, MBA, CFP®, RICP®, Managing Partner, The Ascension Group
Throughout my 30-plus years in the workforce and, specifically, in wealth management, I have endeavored to surround myself with the best people. To me, that means being around people who offer a different view. That is how we learn. That is how we grow. And that is how we succeed. Life, business, the world become far more interesting when we invite others in.
To the women – and men – who champion change every day, happy International Women's Day.