International Women's Day is celebrated annually, today, on March 8. The Investments & Wealth Industry proudly celebrates and supports International Women's Day today and throughout the year through our Women in Wealth initiative and Scholarship Fund. The Scholarship Fund is designed to help address diversity and inclusion gaps within the financial services industry by offsetting the costs of the Institute’s advanced certification programs. The Women in Wealth Scholarships help to assist women in the financial services industry realize their professional certification goals. Our most recent Women in Wealth event celebrated Trailblazing Female Entrepreneurs.
On February 12, 2020 the Institute held its third Women in Wealth Reception generously sponsored by RBC Wealth Management and American Century Investments.
The reception was held at the historic 21 Club in New York City in conjunction with the 2020 Investment Advisor Forum. The reception featured a panel discussion on trailblazers and female entrepreneurship hosted by Institute Board Member and trailblazing entrepreneur Christine Gaze, founder of Purpose Consulting Group.
Left to Right: Rosalyn Walker, Investments & Wealth Institute; Christine Gaze, founder of Purpose Consulting Group; Allison Parc, founder & president, Brenne Whisky; Ann Senne, head of advice and solutions, RBC Wealth Management; and Stacy Berstein, head of financial intermediaries, American Century Investments
Gaze led a powerful and lively discussion with Stacy Berstein, head of financial intermediaries, American Century Investments; Allison Parc, founder & president, Brenne Whisky; and Ann Senne, head of advice and solutions, RBC Wealth Management.
Women on the rise:
It’s no secret that the financial services industry is very male dominated, women account for only 18 percent of employees in finance, surprising as 51% of the US population is female.
However, this picture is changing and has been rapidly in other industries as well. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners:
- More than 11.6 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 9 million people, and generating $1.7 trillion in sales and accounts for 39% of all privately held firms.
- It also should be noted that one in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more is woman owned.
It should come as no surprise that women’s entrepreneurship has been on the rise in the United States for the last two decades. Over the past 20 years, the number of women-owned businesses has grown 114% compared to the overall national growth rate of 44% for all businesses.
The panelists began by discussing how they define success and what keeps them going in difficult times. Senne shared how success changes throughout the years, and that she likes to ask herself the question “Am I using my greatest strengths most of the day?” Bernstein echoed this sentiment, sharing how the definition for success has changed for her over the years: in her thirties she was striving and achieving in the traditional sense, while in her forties it became more value-based, feeling connected, being a positive role-model and giving back.
The panel also discussed how many women these days are finding great success in their second and third chapters, speaking on the advice they have for women who are looking to reframe, evolve or completely change their career in a new industry.
Parc made a huge leap from a professional ballerina to founder of Brenne Whisky and spoke to her experiences. “Never have any shame about what you don’t know,” she said, sharing how throughout the process of creating and building her brand she would pipe up and say “ballet, not business” when she needed clarification on terms or concepts being thrown about.
Senne also shared how it is becoming increasingly important for financial advisors to counsel clients as they consider how to find careers that are fulfilling. She also talked about two campaigns by RBC: Stories of Empowerment, a campaign showcasing female leaders—in their own words and Advisor Stories which explored the journeys of successful advisors who found advising as a second career.
The panel ended by discussing how to encourage women to enter or stay in male-dominated industries when the path for advancement isn’t always clear. The panelists all echoed Parc’s sentiment “Focus on the quality of your work, not your gender.” Bernstein shared the success campaigns and grassroot efforts for American Century’s Speaker Series and Business Resource Group, as well as the importance of her own sponsor/mentor who “carried her flag” when she wasn’t in the room. Senne shared how important it is to be visible and showing others they can be successful in male-dominated industries.
Gaze ended by opening the floor up for questions and asking the audience to think about three things…
- What do I have that I can give-back/contribute?
- What do I need to know or learn right now?
- What can I do on a local level to help encourage, support and advance women in the profession?
At the wrap up of audience questions Gaze asked the panelist for one more nugget, the best piece of advice they had ever received. The responses were incredibly insightful:
- Senne: “If you don’t like it, just wait 6 months!”
- Bernstein: “How am I spending my day? Are these activities going to drive the highest value?”
- Parc: “Be powerful in both your ‘Yeses’ and ‘Nos’, only say yes if it is a whole-body yes’."
About Women in Wealth:
The Women in Wealth initiative was started by a group of Institute members and staff in 2019. The aim is to help provide the tools, community and resources to help women achieve senior level leadership positions in the industry.
For more information on how you can get involved visit: Women in Wealth
Women in Wealth Scholarship Fund:
In January 2020 the Institute unveiled a new Certification Scholarship Fund designed to help address diversity and inclusion gaps within the financial services industry by offsetting the costs of the Institute’s advanced certification programs.
The scholarships help to assist underrepresented groups such as women in realizing their professional goals. Multiple options are available, and consideration is for advisors who show a commitment to advancing their financial advisory profession.
Scholarships include Women in Wealth, Diversity, and Center for RIA Excellence.
We are excited to announce that to date the program has awarded28 scholarships and our goal is to grant 100 scholarships for the year 2020, with the help of generous donors.
For more information on the Women in Wealth scholarship, to see if you qualify or if you would like to donate, please visit: Institute Scholarship Fund