Women more likely to step forward in financial services if treated fairly

Put bluntly, this industry needs women to help address a talent deficit — and they are much more likely to step forward if they feel they will be treated fairly. Advancing women in the workplace must be a wealth-management priority.

You may ask why a male CEO is writing an article about advancing women in the workplace. The answer is simple: equal opportunity is fair, and fairness is good business.

Employees who expect they will have equal access to opportunities for advancement, recognition and reward, with no group advantaged or hindered with respect to another, work more efficiently and effectively, according to “Management: Meeting and Exceeding Customer Expectations,” a book-length survey of successful principles and practices around employee management now in its eleventh edition.

Dynasty Financial Partners has held this view since its inception 10 years ago. As a result, 45% of our workforce is female in an industry where women account for less than 20% of the workforce.

But we have work to do yet and aim to do better and encourage our partners in wealth management to do the same.

This is why I consider Dynasty’s Women’s Network a vital initiative. Launched in 2019, the DWN is a vehicle for women employed by Dynasty, our network firms, and our industry partners for putting thoughts and resolutions into action. We have already seen results in the form of a new report that shines a light on aspects of workplace gender bias relevant to the wealth-management industry while pointing the way to positive change.

INDUSTRY NEEDS MORE WOMEN

There’s another reason to look for ways to advance women in the workplace. We have all heard the sobering statistic that nearly 70% of American households can’t put their hands on $500 to cover an emergency. Despite this sign that consumers need help keeping their personal finances in order perhaps now more than ever, wealth-management firms struggle to attract advisors.

Also, with the Great Wealth Transfer shifting assets from Baby Boomers to younger generations, an increasing amount will be controlled by women. According to a 2009 study from the Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy, women will inherit 70% of the wealth that gets passed down over the next two generations.  Highlighted again by McKinsey in a more recent 2020 study, “an unprecedented amo]unt of assets will shift into the hands of women over the next three to five years, representing a $30 trillion opportunity by the end of the decade.” These wealth transfers are in addition to the increasing amount of wealth that women are building on their own.

[More: Women run 401(k)s better than men: Morningstar]

Women will not only continue to control a higher percentage of investable assets, but they also invest those assets in different ways and often with different financial planning philosophies and risk tolerances than their male counterparts.  According to the same McKinsey study referenced above, more women than men seek a “hyper-personalized and outcome-based approach” to wealth management. Meeting that demand will require financial advisors who can relate to, connect with, and build trust with female investors.

In light of this, female advisors should be actively recruited by wealth managers and, once employed, incentivized on an equal footing with their male counterparts. Put bluntly, this industry needs women to help address a talent deficit — and they are much more likely to step forward if they feel they will be treated fairly. 

An understanding among employees that their hard work will benefit them as well as their employers results in improved morale, higher-caliber employees, better retention, and stronger bottom lines.

To advance our efforts to support women in the workplace, we have crafted several professional-development programs. For example, at the request of several of my female partners, we have created a program and workshop in public speaking.

[More: Best Places to Work 2021: Top firms outpace peers on diversity]

PROGRAMS WITH GOALS

We have also built a mentor program designed to advance the careers of a number of the young women we employ. Mentor and mentee must put at least 90 minutes a month into this 12-month networking program, which identifies specific goals for participants to achieve by the end of the year. In addition, we have a committee that is focused on broader diversity at Dynasty. In fact, for a firm our size, we dedicate significant resources to driving these initiatives forward.

We measure the success of our efforts to foster our female talent by our success in attracting, promoting and retaining women, and the fact that we are adding more female-owned and led businesses to our platform. Our efforts are starting to yield positive outcomes with numerous strong female additions to both our internal team and network of clients over the past two years.

[More: Register for the March 18 InvestmentNews Women Adviser Summit]

We have more to do, however. We are committed to prioritizing the promotion of women in the workplace and the advancement of other important issues around fairness and equity. We can and will expend the time and effort needed to make these advancements and our company and industry will be and do better as a result.

Shirl Penney is CEO of Dynasty Financial Partners.

The post Women more likely to step forward in financial services if treated fairly appeared first on InvestmentNews.

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