By Cyril Tuohy
With only three in 10 financial advisors being female and 70 percent of women preferring to work with a female advisor, the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) has launched an initiative to identify new strategies to recruit women into the field.
The initiative comes on the heels of the latest occupational data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that the number of financial advisors is projected to rise between 2010 and 2020 by 32 percent to 273,200 people.
"By and large, women consumers would prefer to work with women advisors,” Cathy Weatherford, IRI president and chief executive officer, said in a news release. “The financial advising field is already experiencing considerable growth, but given the emergence of the women's market, the opportunities for women advisors are more than substantial.”
The latest push to encourage women to join the financial advisor ranks comes from the latest IRI survey of college-educated women aged 25 to 49 that found job-training provisions would increase the likelihood of women pursuing careers as financial advisors. Such training would be the most effective, followed by online training or training through a local college or university, the survey found.
When evaluating a job, 94 percent of college-educated women value work/life balance, 90 percent value a good relationship with their boss, 87 percent value meaningful work, 85 percent value good relationships with colleagues, and 85 percent value salary, the survey found. All those qualities are present in financial advising, the IRI also noted.
Firms can enhance their appeal to women by providing affinity groups and mentoring programs to enhance on-the-job training, the IRI said. Additionally, the testing associated with licensing to become a financial advisor does not inhibit most women from pursuing the profession.
Women hold the key to broadening the financial advisor industry, which, in the words of Sallie Krawcheck, former chief financial officer of Citigroup, “is becoming the Republican Party—old, white guys talking to other old, white guys.” Krawcheck, who ran Bank of America’s financial adviser unit, delivered her comments at Envestnet’s 2013 Advisor Summit in Chicago last week.
According to BLS data, 69 percent of the financial advisor profession is male and 85 percent of it is white. In addition, 22 percent of financial advisors are 60 or older, according to separate findings by Cerulli Associates in 2011.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. He has also written about food, restaurants and travel. He can be reached at [email protected].
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