While women have made inroads in the financial services industry, there's still a gap-especially for women of color. For International Women’s Day, Investopedia asked female financial advisors what representation means to them and how the industry can improve.
From 2018 to 2021, the share of women in financial services rose 40% at the senior-vice-president level and 50% at the C-suite level, according to an assessment by McKinsey. White men comprise 64% of C-suite executives, and 23% are white women. Only 4% of C-suite executive positions are held by women of color.
Here is what six women executives had to say about the state of diversity in their industry.
Marguerita Cheng, founder and CEO, Blue Ocean Global Wealth
"The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is #EmbraceEquity. Each one of us has a role in changing gender biases, stereotypes, and discrimination. Advisers can help expand financial inclusion by assisting people in understanding essential concepts and developing the skills needed to reach their financial goals.
"Equity within finance means improved access to competent ethical financial advice, which is critical for building wealth, employment opportunities and the inclination to start a business. Access to money improves your financial wellness and positively changes the quality of your life.
"It’s time to help our communities expand access to financial education and improve their financial wellness, which starts by teaching our children, families, and people, young and old, the importance of smart money management."
Nicole B. Simpson, Certified Financial Planner
“In the 21st century, women are still significantly underrepresented in the financial planning industry. Yet there is a glimmer of hope as we continue to make great strides. More women are controlling the economic spending in the households, and they prefer to work with female advisors. This creates a great opportunity for financial planning professionals to help families become financially free.
"The demographic of wealth is changing, and women are taking a greater interest in overall comprehensive financial planning, both as a profession and as it relates to acquiring a comfortable standard of living for their families. Women financial planning professionals continue to find great success as women clients have a great desire to work with other women.
Equity in the financial planning industry continues to remain problematic for women as the professionals have remained stagnant at approximately 23% for the last several years. Yet opportunities remain limitless as women consumers are intentionally seeking the advice or guidance of women financial planning professionals with compassion and empathy. A primary reason is because women prefer to work with other women, especially ones that can relate to the gender challenges still prevalent in society today.”
Mary Beth Storjohann, Co-CEO, Abacus Wealth Partners
“On International Women’s Day in 2023, women represent 50.5% of the United States demographic, but only 23.6% of Certified Financial Planner professionals. While this number continues to grow and show progress, the financial services industry still has much work to do to close this gap.
Every woman has a uniquely lived experience when it comes to taking up the space they deserve in this industry and many have had to self-advocate, navigate biases, walk out of doors, or build their own tables. Today we celebrate the path paved by the women in finance that have come before us but also pause to recognize the work that remains to be done. "
Chloé Moore, Founder, Financial Staples
”I am so fortunate to help women in tech take control of their finances. Through our work together, my clients have negotiated higher wages, planned for extended time away from work, led money discussions in their households, and reached financial goals they didn’t realize were possible. On this day, I celebrate women’s achievement and empowerment and look forward to a world that’s more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.”
Carolyn McClanahan, Certified Financial Planner, Life Planning Partners
“For far too long, stereotypes have existed along gender lines about who has the capability to manage money and take care of family finances. Thankfully, those stereotypes are eroding and women are engaged in the family finances more than ever.
But we still have much work to do – men hold too much of the power in the financial services industry and men still control too much wealth in general. We can only rest when there are just as many women in financial services and in positions of power as there are men. Change is slow and steady, and one day we will be there.”
Rebecca Walser, Founder, Walser Wealth
“International Women’s day is so important to me, especially coming from a male-dominated industry - both on the tax and financial side. However, the demographic is starting to shift and will continue to shift as we expect a substantial amount of advisors who are older white males to retire within the next 5-10 years and even sooner should a massive disruption like 2008 occur in the next few years.
This disruption - while always difficult to navigate through - will create huge new opportunities that will open the industry to fill these positions with more people of more diverse backgrounds and especially women - which is the singular group where we expect the most growth from and that is very exciting and my Team and I are glad to be a part of it!”