Compiling a list of famous women financial advisors is no easy task. There are a handful of recognizable financial journalists; Liz Pullam Weston, Jean Chatzky, Tess Vigeland, Michelle Singletary, Farnoosh Torabi and Jane Bryant Quinn. Yet, when it comes to famous financial advisors, the list of well-known women advisors is slim.
The two most recognizable female financial advisors are Suze Orman and Mellody Hobson. Turns out many famous financial gurus aren't Certified Financial Planners (CFP) or holders of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. Yet there are many female financial advisors and planners doing quite well and whose names lack household recognition. (For more, see: The Rise of For-Women Advisor Practices.)
Top Women Financial Advisors
Orman and Hobson are media darlings and financial professionals. Orman started out as a stock broker while Hobson transitioned from senior vice president and director of marketing to become president of Ariel Capital Management, LLC. Neither woman holds the CFP or Certified Financial Planner credential which tests competency in all areas of financial planning.
1. Suze Orman
Suze Orman is one of the most recognizable financial gurus in the country. Her financial empire includes books, calculators, tools and a resource center. Her one stop financial planning empire covers every area of one's financial life, offering everything from a debt eliminator and expense tracker tool to the money tools and insurance evaluator kit. Young, Fabulous and Broke, You’ve Earned it, Don’t Lose It!, and The Laws of Money are among her 12 popular books. According to her website contact page, Orman’s business involves television and media appearances rather than individual client consultations.
2. Mellody Hobson
Mellody Hobson is President of Ariel Capital Management, LLC, a Chicago-based mutual fund company and investment management firm. Just 10 years after graduating from Princeton University, Hobson progressed from intern to president of the company. In addition to her work at Ariel, she’s a financial contributor to Good Morning America’s money segments. She’s also a fierce advocate for African American financial literacy. In 2015, Hobson made the prestigious Time Magazine list of 100 most influential people in the world. (For more, see: Career Tips for Women Who Want to be Advisors)
3. Karen McDonald
Karen McDonald of Morgan Stanley was ranked number one by Barrons in the 2014 survey. She has $21.2 billion assets under management and directs a team of 15 that serves corporate clients, many of which are the the Fortune top 100-500 lists. In addition to serving her corporate clients with employee benefit solutions, she also focuses on educating employees to make better financial decisions.
4. Susan Kaplan
Susan Kaplan, the top financial advisor according to Barron’s 2013 survey, is the president of Kaplan Financial Services in Newton, Massachusetts. She has $1.4 billion assets under management with a typical account size of $3.5 million. Her average client has a $10 million net worth. Kaplan has an MBA and is a Certified Financial Planner. She’s been a participant in Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street and Mutual Fund publications as well as many other financial journals. Her media presence includes Bloomberg News, CNBC, WGBH and more.
5. Gillian Yu
Gillian Yu of Morgan Stanley Securities (formerly Credit Suisse) in San Francisco, California, held the number two spot on the 2013 Barron’s list and number six in 2014. Yu’s total assets under management are $3.5 billion with a typical account size of $20 million. Her clients average a $50 million net worth. Yu is licensed as both a financial advisor and a broker. Born and raised in Taiwan and fluent in English, Mandarin, and Taiwanese, she’s able to serve international clients with ties to Asia as well as U.S.-based entrepreneurs.
6. Elaine Meyers
Elaine Meyers is the fifth ranked financial advisor and was third on the prestigious 2013 Barrons.com list of top female financial advisors. Meyer’s assets under management totaled $2.63 billion with a typical account size of $30 million. Her typical client has a net worth of $50 million. Meyers is a Managing Director with Credit Suisse (USA) Private Banking North America in San Francisco. Meyers has several decades in the financial advisory field with prior experience at other international investment firms.
The Bottom Line
Although most famous women financial advisors aren’t well known in celebrity circles, their accomplishments are noteworthy. Managing billions of dollars for corporations and the wealthy, they educate as well as invest for their clients. (For more, see: Why are So Few Women in Finance? It's Complicated.)