October is seeing a frenzy of activity centered on generating interest and support for women in the financial services industry.
More than 400 industry professionals are preparing to gather Oct. 28-30 in Baltimore for the 28th annual Women in Insurance and Financial Services (WIFS) National Conference.
WIFS organizers say they expect the meeting to be the largest in the organization’s 79-year history. The association has 1,100 members and is based in Albany, N.Y.
Last week, Signator Investors announced the launch of the Signator Women Advisors Network to strengthen support for recruiting more women into the industry.
“As a network for female advisors, by female advisors, we are committed to helping more women enter our industry, and ensuring they have the resources and support they need to be successful on their own terms,” Alice Tang, vice president BPG Wealth Management, said in a news release announcing the Signature Investors Women Advisors Network.
“I see a bright future where female advisors come to the table not to compete with male advisors but complement them — so both our clients, and the industry, win," she added.
On Oct. 4, WIFS and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) announced a new partnership to strengthen collaboration to advance professional development and education, and support political advocacy and engagement.
That the financial services industry and the financial advisory industry are dominated by men isn’t news.
NAIFA says about 14 percent of its 40,500 paid members are women. Many other financial organizations count even fewer women members.
Women have made progress in some pockets of the financial services industry, but other segments of the industry still have a long way to go with regard to integrating women into the ranks.
While the percentage of women at the support advisor level has grown from 44 percent in 2013 to 49 percent in 2015, it has shrunk at the lead advisor level from 36 percent in 2013 to 26 percent in 2015, according to data compiled recently by InvestmentNews.
At the practicing partner level, the rate has dropped even faster — from 25 percent in 2013 to 14 percent this year, according to InvestmentNews research.
In the banking sector, the pattern is often the same: women fill many of the lower-paid though not necessarily lower-skilled openings, but the higher up the ladder the fewer the number of women.
“Visit your local bank branch or call center and you are likely to encounter more women than men working there,” notes a report titled “Women in Financial Services” published by the consultant Oliver Wyman.
“At 150 of the world’s major financial institutions, only 13 percent of executive committee members and 4 percent of CEOs are women,” the report found.
Norway, Sweden and Canada lead in the percentage of women serving in executive-committee level positions in 2013, with the United States in seventh place, Oliver Wyman researchers also found.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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