Closing the Gender Gap: Empowering Women in Personal Finance

Women in Personal Finance

What is your flooring and desk selection?

This seemingly innocuous question was one I frequently posed to my colleagues during my previous job on Wall Street. However, it wasn’t about locating them for work-related discussions; it was to assist them in setting up their company-sponsored 401(k) retirement plans. Word spread quickly throughout my workplace that I possessed the knowledge and willingness to help co-workers navigate this complex financial terrain.

My interest in saving money has been a defining trait throughout my life. To me, money represents not just currency but also freedom and independence. This concept was ingrained in me from a young age. Years later, an opportunity presented itself for me to invest in my family’s wealth management business. This step ultimately led to the creation of my own personal finance education platform, Planancial.

Upon leaving Wall Street, I expected to find more women in the field of personal finance. While there were relatively more women in this sector compared to the trading floor, a significant gender gap still persisted. 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 assumed I wasn’t attending as a financial advisor. When asked what type of badge I needed at registration, the first guess was “Assistant?” No. “Wholesaler?” Wrong again. “Home office?” Still no. To their surprise, I responded, “Advisor.”

The field of personal finance has long been dominated by men. It’s an “eat what you kill” environment at best and, at worst, a “boys’ club.” Additionally, it boasts an alarming failure rate, with over 90 percent of advisors failing within the first five years. It also ranks second for the largest gender pay gap among industries.

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These statistics alone explain why most women shy away from this field, and who can blame them? However, there is a promising silver lining that has often gone unnoticed. Being a financial advisor offers flexibility, unlimited income potential, and, most importantly, a chance to make a tangible, positive impact on others’ lives.

So why hasn’t this potential been brought to light? I believe there simply haven’t been enough women to lead the way.

Women I’ve spoken with often assume that excelling at math and stock trading is a prerequisite, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Women bring a unique perspective to this industry, one that may even be superior. Women are naturally intuitive, empathetic, understanding, and trustworthy. Female advisors are more likely to act as financial quarterbacks, providing 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, in which I was a finalist in 2017, I learned to harness and enhance these strengths through business coaching.

I implore more women to consider this alternative career path, especially those seeking greater flexibility. The significant difference in personal finance is that you have the ability to generate recurring income, meaning you don’t start from scratch each year. Moreover, with holistic goal planning, you work with clients throughout their entire lives, including their children and grandchildren. This is the tangible, positive impact you can have across generations.

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

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Does this sound appealing to you? Then begin by asking yourself these questions:

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

If you answered “yes,” a career in personal finance may be the right fit for you! Start by educating yourself through podcasts hosted by advisors or books written by advisors. If your interest persists, think about your ideal client and your area of focus. Advisors often have clients who share similar interests and values. The next step is to find a mentor.

If you fear making a career change in today’s economic climate, I challenge you to consider that now is the best time to do so. People are navigating their domestic finances during an unprecedented time – a global pandemic, a war in Eastern Europe, record-high inflation – making it a critical period for financial planning.

Money is power, and having women manage that money is revolutionary.

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