10 Famous Women Financial Advisors

Top women financial advisors whose names you should know

Compiling a list of famous women financial advisors is no easy task. That’s because among famous financial advisors, the list of women who are well known is slim. The two most recognizable are Suze Orman and Mellody Hobson. Both are media darlings.

The rest of the women included below may not be known to the general public, but they are famous in their field for being high achievers. These star financial advisors rank among Barron’s Top 100 Women Financial Advisors of 2020 and manage billions in assets.

Key Takeaways

  • Suze Orman and Mellody Hobson are two of the most famous and influential women financial advisors.
  • Other women financial advisors may not be household names, but they are high achievers in their field.
  • They are among those included in Barron’s annual ranking of America’s top 100 women financial advisors, which highlights their achievements based on total assets managed, revenue, and quality of practice.

1. Suze Orman

Suze Orman is a certified financial planner (CFP) and one of the most recognizable financial gurus in the country. She hosted The Suze Orman Show on CNBC for 13 years and continues to make frequent appearances on various media outlets. Orman also hosts a podcast called Women & Money. 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 various estate planning tools and an insurance evaluator kit.

Orman has written many bestselling personal finance books, including You’ve Earned It, Don’t Lose It! and The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke.

2. Mellody Hobson

Mellody Hobson is co-CEO and president of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based mutual fund company and investment management firm. She regularly appears on national television.

Hobson also is a fierce advocate for financial literacy among Black Americans. In 2015, she made the prestigious Time Magazine list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Hobson is also chairperson of Starbucks and a director on the board of JPMorgan Chase.

Suze Orman started out as a stockbroker, while Mellody Hobson began her 30-year career at Ariel Investments as a summer intern who was recruited from Princeton University.

3. Kimberlee Orth

Kimberlee Orth was ranked number one by Barron’s in 2020, moving up from second in 2019. An advisor with her eponymous Orth Financial Group, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, she manages $3 billion in assets for 1,089 households and has an 18-member team. Orth, whose career spans 33 years, regularly appears in Barron’s rankings.

4. Karen McDonald

Karen McDonald, managing director at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, was ranked number one in the 2019 survey, and second in 2020. She has more than $91.5 billion in assets under management (AUM) and directs a team of 15 that serves more than 56,000 client households. McDonald has more than 40 years of investment experience.

5. Stephanie J. Stiefel

Ranking third for the second year in a row, Stephanie J. Stiefel is managing director and head of client development for the Straus Group, part of Neuberger Berman’s private asset management division. The group manages $2.4 billion in assets for 218 clients with an average net worth of $45 million.

6. Valerie Newell

Valerie Newell is principal and senior wealth advisor of Mariner Wealth Advisors in Cincinnati. Her team of 45 manages 1,251 client households with a combined $3.4 billion in assets. She ranked fourth for the second year in a row and has 33 years of experience in the business.

7. Deborah Montaperto

Deborah Montaperto is a managing director and private wealth advisor at Morgan Stanley and partner of the Polk Wealth Management Group, part of the bank’s private wealth management division. Based in Palm Beach, Fla., Polk has a 28-person team that advises on more than $27 billion in assets for 237 clients, who have an average net worth of $150 million. Montaperto moved up to fifth in 2020 from seventh in the 2019 rankings and has been included since 2010.

8. Johanna Walters

Ranking sixth for the second year in a row, Johanna Walters is a managing director and financial advisor at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in Blue Bell, Pa. Her team of 16 manages $4.4 billion in assets for 692 clients. Walters has 22 years of experience.

9. Susan Kaplan

Susan Kaplan, president of Kaplan Financial Services in Newton, Mass., ranked seventh in 2020, up from eighth in 2019. She manages more than $2 billion in assets for 175 clients. Kaplan’s media presence includes Bloomberg News, CNBC, and more. She has been included in Barron’s rankings multiple times and has 35 years of experience in the field.

10. Gillian Yu

Gillian Yu, managing director at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management in San Francisco, holds the number eight spot on the Barron’s list. Yu manages $6.7 billion in assets for 40 clients. Her ultra-high-net-worth clients have an average net worth of $100 million. Born and raised in Taiwan, Yu is fluent in English, Mandarin, and Taiwanese. She ranked fifth in 2019.

The Bottom Line

Although most famous women financial advisors aren’t household names, their accomplishments are noteworthy. And while the total number of women in the financial services industry is low, this list of accomplished women clearly highlights their talents and ability to thrive in a traditionally male-dominated field.

Article Sources

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  1. Suze Orman. “About Suze Orman.” Accessed March 8, 2021.

  2. Ariel Investments. “Mellody Hobson.” Accessed March 8, 2021.

  3. Ariel Investments. “About Ariel.” Accessed March 8, 2021.

  4. Suze Orman. “Suze’s Story.” Accessed March 8, 2021.

  5. Ariel Investments. “Executive Leadership.” Accessed March 8, 2021.

  6. Barron’s. “Kimberlee Orth.” Accessed March 8, 2021.

  7. Barron’s. “Karen McDonald.” Accessed March 15, 2021.

  8. Barron’s. “Stephanie J. Stiefel.” Accessed March 8, 2021.

  9. Barron’s. “Valerie Newell.” Accessed March 8, 2021.

  10. Barron’s. “Deborah Montaperto.” Accessed March 8, 2021.

  11. Barron’s. “Johanna Walters.” Accessed March 8, 2021.

  12. Barron’s. “Susan Kaplan.” Accessed March 8, 2021.

  13. Barron’s. “Gillian Yu.” Accessed March 8, 2021.