I was mistaken for an assistant at a financial advisor

“What is your floor and desk number?”

In my former career on Wall Street this was a question I asked my colleagues regularly.

However, it wasn’t so I could locate them to talk about a work-related issue, it was to help them set up their company provided 401(k). It spread quickly within my firm that I knew how to set up these retirement plans and would frequently help co-workers do so.

I was always interested in saving money. For me, money equaled independence. This was something I valued and realized from a young age. Fast forward many years later and I was presented with the opportunity to buy my family’s wealth management business, which in turn led me to start my own personal finance education platform, Planancial.

When I left Wall Street, I expected to find more women in personal finance. While there were more women in this field relative to a trading floor, there was a pretty glaring gap. Even today, only 15 percent of financial advisors are women and less than a quarter of Certified Financial Planners (“CFPs”) are female.

At my first industry conference, many people assumed I was not attending as a financial advisor. At check-in, when asked what type of badge I needed, the first guess: “Assistant?”

Nope.

“Wholesaler?” Nope again.

“Home office?” Still no.

To their shock I answered “advisor.”

The personal finance industry has been predominately male for a long time. It’s an “eat what you kill environment” at best and a “boys’ club” at worst. It also has a staggering failure rate … more than 90 percent of advisors fail in the first five years. It also has the second largest gender pay gap amongst industries.

Image: Barbara Ginty is a certified financial planner and host of the highly-rated finance podcast, Future Rich.
Barbara Ginty is a certified financial planner and host of the highly-rated finance podcast, Future Rich.Brad Trent

Those two statistics alone make it easy to understand why most women don’t consider this field – and who would blame them?

But there’s a promising silver lining that’s gone largely unnoticed. Being a financial advisor offers flexibility, unlimited income potential, and most importantly it’s a career where you can have a tangible positive impact on the lives of others.

So why has this never been brought to light? Well, I just don’t think there have been enough women to lead the way.

Women I speak with assume you must be good at math and picking stocks, which just isn’t true.

Women bring a totally different perspective to this industry and perhaps, even a better one. Women are by nature intuitive, empathetic, understanding and trustworthy. Female advisors are much more likely to be your financial quarterback and provide holistic goal-oriented planning in an environment where there are no bad questions or convoluted jargon.

Thanks to Mika Brzezinski’s Grow Your Value competition – where I was a finalist in 2017 – I learned to harness and promote those strengths through business coaching.

I implore more women to consider this diverse career path, especially those looking for more flexibility. The big difference with personal finance is you have the ability to create recurring revenue, so you don’t start from scratch each year. Additionally, with holistic goals planning you work with your clients through their entire lives and then their children and grandchildren. That’s the tangible positive impact you have over generations.

Given that women are expected to control approximately $30 trillion in financial assets by the end of the decade – an amount that trumps today’s annual U.S. GDP – we need more female advisors immediately.

Sound interesting? Then start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Are you hard-working, empathetic, considerate, detail oriented, personable, a good listener and enjoy building personal relationships?
  2. Are you interested in the topic of personal finance?
  3. Do you like the idea of a career that allows flexibility and control over income?

If you answered yes, then a career in personal finance could be the right fit for you! Educate yourself with podcasts hosted by advisors or books written by advisors. If this continues to interest you, think about your ideal client and your area of focus. Advisors tend to have clients who share similar interests and values. The next step would be to find a mentor.

If you fear making a career change in the midst of today’s economic climate, I would challenge you that this is the perfect time to do so. Americans are navigating household finances during an unprecedented time – a global pandemic, a war in eastern Europe, record-high inflation – now is when they need the most help planning for their financial security.

Money is power but having women managing that money is revolutionary.

Finance