Morgan Stanley’s Lisa Cregan launched the Women's Advisory Council in 2011 to provide female financial advisors in Houston with a platform to involve themselves in their community so they could network, find new clients and recruit talent.
“It provided needed peer-sharing opportunities,” said Cregan, managing and regional director with Morgan Stanley in Washington, D.C. “The Council brought women together with the common purpose to grow their financial advisory businesses. It’s also an important channel through which to advise, support and mentor younger female advisors.”
Six years later, there are now 30 Women’s Advisory Councils nationwide that assist women who work as financial advisors at Morgan Stanley by providing seed funding so that they can make donations, join the boards of local organizations and sponsor events.
“Women network differently than men,” Cregan said. “The Councils provide a structural alternative to typical old-school networking activities — weekend golf, early-morning or after-work outings — in favor of philanthropic, social and community/business forums to develop clients in settings where women are focused on common passions and feel comfortable, safe and in-community.”
Cregan was among a trio of women working in the financial services industry who gathered to lead a panel about women, wealth and the workplace in Manhattan on March 6 called Tearing Down the Pink Wall. Other panelists included former Calvert Investments CEO Barbara Krumisek and Jewelle Bickford, a financial advisor and partner with Evercore Wealth Management in New York.
“Despite successes at some firms in attracting more women financial advisors, women are largely working in male dominated environments,” said Krumisek, who is now a senior industry fellow at the Women's Leadership Institute at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. “As a result, they need networks of safe organizations, such as women's financial organizations.”
Although the CFP Board has seen impressive growth in the number of CFP professionals in recent years, the percentage of women has remained flat at 23 percent for at least a decade.
“Women advisors have a great advantage in terms of their ability to attract and keep clients,” Krumisek said. “Multi-generational is terribly important and the ability to communicate across generations would really contribute to their being a very successful advisor.”
According to Cregan, 50 percent of new financial advisor hires in wealth management at Morgan Stanley are diverse and eight women are partners out of 27 at Evercore Wealth Management, including Bickford, who previously worked with the Rothschild family.
“We clearly think there's a role for women in wealth management and many of our partners are also portfolio managers and it’s not just because of their ability to manage money but also because our clients relate very well to women when discussing diversification, the importance of taking risks and why you need equities in your portfolio,” Bickford said.
One way that women can ensure their success in the arena of financial services is by securing a mentor or sponsor.
“The difference is that the mentor provides you with general advice whereas a sponsor advocates for your advancement at the firm” Bickford said.
Krumisek advises women to take the concept one step further.
“I encourage women to invest in their careers through the services offered at their firms and also to invest in themselves by hiring a professional coach,” said Krumisek. “It’s worth the money to have a sounding board that can help you navigate upwards in the workplace.”
Juliette Fairley is a New York City-based business and finance journalist who has written four personal finance books and has reported for major news organizations. Juliette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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