The Institute’s Devon Coquillard, Communications Manager, sits down with Dorothy Bossung, CFP®, CIMA®, CPWA®, RMA® to discuss Dorothy’s success within a male-dominated industry and how to light a path for others.
WOMEN IN WEALTH PROFILE – Dorothy E. Bossung, CFP®, CIMA®, CPWA®, RMA®
Dorothy began her career in New York City (NYC) while still in college. She started in an administrative role handling commodity trade reconciliation on omnibus accounts.
“My first supervisor was a woman and I leaned on her for direction, and in some ways, on how to settle into NYC when moving from the Midwest,” said Dorothy. “When you are the only woman in the room, you stick out. I learned that to be a successful woman in the field, you had to work harder and be more prepared than the men.”
“When you are the only woman in the room, you stick out. I learned that to be a successful woman in the field, you had to work harder and be more prepared than the men.”
She added, “for this reason, you have to be thoughtful about your actions, and you cannot afford to make a mistake. In fact, when I asked a prior mentor for her advice, she said exactly that, ‘Don’t ever make a mistake.’ Now, that is a very high bar. We all make mistakes at one time or another but, when you come to the table different than the rest of the folks in the room, the mistake seems to get more notice.”
Dorothy is no stranger to the unique challenges one faces when becoming a successful advisor, especially as a woman. When she started in the business, she said there were not many women working in advisory or senior roles. While interviewing at a major wirehouse, she was offered a secretarial job.
“I explained that I was there for the open advisor position. The branch manager who was interviewing me told me that he wouldn’t give his money to a woman to invest, so how could he hire one and expect her to succeed?” Needless to say, she didn’t take the job, nor has she ever wanted to work for that particular firm.
Dorothy was often the only woman in the room during business meetings. She explained that the standards are different between men and women, even if it may, in part, be self-imposed.
“I even had a prospective client come into the office to pick up some materials I offered to mail him just to see the female advisor who’d had the nerve to give him a call,” she said. “Thankfully, not everyone in the industry had this type of attitude, and I have enough stubbornness to stick with it and do things—particularly when someone says I shouldn’t be able to do so.”
“Women who are in senior roles are held to very high standards. It has not been unusual in my career to receive emails from senior-level female leaders at 1 or 2 a.m. It is not that they actually have to work 24/7, although sometimes you feel like you do. It is because they work flexibly. They spend their day at the office, go home to family, have family time, and then often circle back to open items when things quiet down.,” she said. “I am not saying that guys do not ever do that. I just haven’t seen it very much and have seen many men complain if they work for a woman who operates that way saying, ‘Doesn’t she ever sleep?’”
It’s no secret that the financial services industry is very male dominated. Some studies suggest that women account for only 17 percent of finance employees, despite 51% of the US population being female. Over the years, there have been a variety of reasons given for why women don’t enter the profession; from more significant obligations outside of work, to the perception that males are better at math, to the competitive environment being less attractive to women and a host of other reasons that may or may not be based in reality.
When asked “Why aren’t more women represented in our industry? Why aren’t more women in leadership roles?” Dorothy said, “Well, I think a part of the reason is the fact that you do not have as many women in senior-level roles or even in the role of an advisor. It is easier to envision yourself doing something if you see someone like you doing it already.”
She added, “a big part of the problem is that the leadership is largely male. Unfortunately, men may not realize it, but they treat women differently. When they are mentoring another guy, they think nothing of inviting him to join in a round of golf, with or without a client. The subtle mentoring in casual conversation and being able to watch the behavior of a mentor closely is an underacknowledged benefit that guys receive, and many women do not receive that from the men in leadership roles. This is one reason why it is critical that we involve men in IWI’s Women in Wealth initiative as well. They need to be involved in the discussion for meaningful change to occur.”
Luckily, things are moving in the right direction. We see more women at higher levels of business and government.
Dorothy acknowledged these strides “as women, we have made some progress, but there is a long way to go for equitable representation [within the industry]. It is every successful woman’s responsibility to mentor and help to clear a path for the next generation. We all, men and women, need to make an effort if we are going to really make a difference.”
"It is every successful woman’s responsibility to mentor and help to clear a path for the next generation. We all, men and women, need to make an effort if we are going to really make a difference.”
As a member of the Institute’s Women in Wealth - Diversity Elevates Taskforce, she has put this belief into action by helping to drive this initiative. The Women in Wealth program promotes and celebrates gender diversity in the financial advice profession. The program raises funds to support the Women in Wealth Certification Scholarship Fund, build community, and ultimately improve women advisors’ expertise and accelerate career advancement and success.
“Women in Wealth shines a spotlight on successful women in varying roles in the industry. It gives women that role model. We seek to bring women together to discuss issues that concern them and potential solutions to those problems. Women, in my experience, enjoy brainstorming to come up with solutions or new ways of approaching a problem.”
The Women in Wealth events have been very successful. These events have hosted over 1,000 women for discussion and community since May of 2019. “The next Women in Wealth Webinar is April 26, 2021, so mark your calendars now. It’s shaping up to be a great line up,” she said.
For more information on how to get involved with Women in Wealth, visit: www.investmentsandwealth.org/women-in-wealth
Dorothy E. Bossung is chair-elect of the Investments & Wealth Institute (IWI, formerly IMCA) for the 2021 term and will become chair for 2022–2023. Investments & Wealth Monitor profiles her career below as part of its Leadership Profile series.
Bossung is executive vice president and serves on the investment committee for Lowery Asset Consulting, LLC. Her professional experience includes more than 30 years of investment and financial planning for high-net-worth individuals, nonprofit organizations, and associations. Previously, she served as managing director of a boutique financial services firm following 10 years in leadership roles within the investment practices of three multinational accounting firms, and 18 years with national brokerage firms. She earned a BBA in accounting cum laude from Pace University.
Bossung joined the IWI board of directors in 2014 and currently serves on the executive committee as vice chair of the board and chair of the Retirement Management Analyst® (RMA®) Commission. She is past chair of the Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®) Commission and is a former member of the Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) Commission.