Practical analysis for investment professionals
24 May 2016

Wealth Management: Bringing in More Women

Wealth Management: Bringing in More Women

Cheryl Nash, president of Investment Services for Fiserv, knows a lot about what it takes to succeed as a woman in financial services. She began her career at a small technology start-up more than 30 years ago and worked her way to the top. That small start-up has been acquired twice over those 30 years.

Nash is an incredible role model for other women in the industry, although there aren’t many who have followed her path. Often she is one of the only women in the room at industry gatherings or meetings. Both the industry and women professionals suffer as a result of this scarcity.

But Nash is working to correct the gender imbalance in finance. As a board member of Envestnet Institute on Campus (EIOC), a scholarship program that supports students interested in careers in wealth management through online coursework and training, she will lead a new Women in Wealth Management program set to launch this fall. Nash intends to use the program to encourage more college-age women to take an interest in the profession. It’s not just a matter of balancing out the gender equation in financial services, either. It turns out that women have special skills that are especially suited for wealth management. I talked with Nash about the program, the history of women in wealth management, and her own experience in the profession.

April J. Rudin: This is a really inspiring program. What made you decide to get involved?

Cheryl Nash: I feel that women deserve the wealth management industry and that the wealth management industry deserves women. Actually, women are uniquely suited to work in this industry, where success is really so closely tied to an ability to build trusting relationships with clients. In general, women are naturally more attuned to relationship building and listening. This is not a myth, there’s science behind it, and wealth management is an industry that needs the input of women. We are also traditionally attracted to industries and jobs that allow us to help other people, and I can tell you there is nothing more satisfying than helping families protect their wealth for the next generation.

Also, I feel indebted to the many women mentors I had while I was making my way as a younger woman. I feel like it’s my turn to give back.

Why start with college-age women?

It’s best to get them started young because being a successful wealth manager these days is a complex business. There’s a lot to learn — about technology, investing, taxes, trusts, the fiduciary responsibility, estate planning. Also, university-age women have a direct line to the millennial population we are constantly hearing about, the ones who will eventually climb to the top of the wealth pyramid and whose investing, communicating, and consumption styles are so different from the generations that came before them. We need these women to help lead our wealth management businesses into tomorrow.

What precisely will the initiative entail? How many women do you hope to enroll?

Through the Women in Wealth Management initiative, Fiserv, as a sponsor of EIOC, will help with the development of women-specific content and expansion of the program. EIOC will also provide scholarships for students at over 20 participating universities, including Colgate University, University of Rhode Island, and University of New Hampshire, among others.

To attract participants to this program, we will provide access to industry-influencing women who are associated with and specialize in wealth management. Sharing their real-life experiences will guide college-age women and help them build lasting and successful careers in the industry. We will offer live webcasts and courses targeted specifically for women, which I will personally lead. We’ll also capitalize on the broad reach and power of social media to connect and engage with our participants.

We haven’t set a specific target number of women participants yet; however, as a whole, the program aims to train 5,000 students from several higher education institutions over the next five years. In the future, we intend to create an internship program and resume hub to connect employers with graduates certified through the program.

Have the barriers to entry for women loosened as the industry has shifted from a stock brokerage model to a wealth management/investment advisory model?

I would say yes, they have. The culture of the business has changed dramatically with this shift. Wealth management is no longer a business that is primarily about sales; it has evolved into a business that places value on long-term relationships, an area where women tend to excel. The business has also become a little bit less “traditional Wall Street,” which was always very conservative. That leaves more room for non-traditional models, new ways of thinking, and greater emphasis on innovation and out-of-the-box ideas — all of which creates a more inviting environment for women.

Why now?

It’s about time!

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/runeer

About the Author(s)
April J. Rudin

April J. Rudin, founder and president of The Rudin Group, is an expert at the intersection of wealth marketing, next gen, and digital/social platforms. She regularly advises financial institutions on strategies and tactics to attract and engage with wealthy clients multi-generationally. Rudin is a consultant to global financial services firms in North America, Asia, and the Middle East, and a frequent contributor to Huffington Post , Family Wealth Report, and Fundfire, among other publications, on trends, commentary, and insight to wealth marketing.

4 thoughts on “Wealth Management: Bringing in More Women”

  1. Only 3-4% of CEO’s worldwide are women, yet women are more effective leaders, generally. Studies show that men are more effective when they are young, but women become more effective as they age and really hit their stride once they pass 40.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/study-women-are-better-leaders-2014-1

  2. Anonymous says:

    CFA Institute ‏mentioned this article in a tweet: “How to attract more women to #wealthmanagement? @therudingroup and @cherylnash2 http://cfa.is/1sK09Kv #cfawomen” – @CFAinstitute

    The largest power is the hiring managers and often the Portfolio Managers on a specific team. Due to the historical majority of Portfolio Managers being male, this trend of male dominancy in this industry will likely stay strong for a long time to come. Women finance professionals have been working extremely hard over the past 20 years, at a minimum, to push the envelop and drive the engine to obtain roles and support other women getting roles in Wealth Management and Finance.

    The trend that I’ve noticed is that smart, qualified women are often provided with the opportunity to get “administrative” positions. These positions are like a ticket to get to the carrot at the end of a stick. You pray that if you do all the right things, say all the right things, with a side of pursuing a CFA designation (or some other form of education), you may eventually get to that next level of becoming an analyst or associate portfolio manager. Unfortunately, after time spent in this role, with plenty of overtime hours that you will never be compensated for, you realize that your means to an end is seen as an end by the generous portfolio manager who has helped you get this far.

    I will not ramble on this topic. My issue is – women need to get in AND get the opportunity to climb to respectable roles. Why should one candidate (male) be rewarded with opportunities to move into analyst or associate manager roles, when another candidate (female) continues to sit idle in an assistant or low-level associate role. It’s not about the candidate asking the right questions. It’s about taking responsibility in a senior (manager) role to mentor and give challenging roles to females. These females were likely in the same undergraduate-level courses as the males. These females deserve the same amount of respect and the same level of career prospects as their counterparts.

    If this is a program aimed at getting the right jobs and career trajectories for women – good on you.

    1. Marci Koory says:

      Young women MUST demand to be put into positions that young males are put into. DO NOT wait for a man to put you into the position. Learn to be pushy with a wonderful smile!!! They will tell you many things, but you must do it yourself to get to where you want to go. This is a wonderful field and women are excellent at it. The other things I recommend is talk to women up and down the ladder and across industries. Women must not allow themselves to become isolated. Because of course that is how your voice is controlled and suppressed. The only thing a man has over a woman is…you guessed it. BUT, you are a woman and that is the card you must play. Playing nice to the boys’ team will not get what you want. I have had a 30 plus career in finance and have done ALL the things the men do, but I was never a part of the boys’ club because I was a wife, mother, and friend. Allegience to the boys is not a requirement and SHOULD NOT be. I make more, possibly double or triple as much as my male counterparts but they have not clue because they only see the other man in the room. You must find your own accomplishments and then TALK ABOUT THEM!!!!

  3. Marci Koory says:

    In following up on my comments above, this is not a man vs. woman field. Men just happen to make up the majority of the participants and it can be intimidating, but they are acting like any majority, they see others like themselves. Young women should be clear over and over as to where they are going. There are many, many fine men and women who will help young women advance, just simply don’t think someone will advance you just because you are a hard worker. Be willing to take on a new job even if you don’t have the skills yet. Men develop and expect to develop there skills on the job. You do not have to be good at something before you take a position at a more advanced skill level. When I asked to be made an equity analyst, my boss told me “well I guess we’ll see if you will sink or swim” – – – the men, of course, would never have been told this. When it was time for promotions, I was given a jar of candy for my excellent performance as a sell-side analyst, the men were promoted with TITLES. I made waves, received a title, became a CFA Charterholder and after 10 years on the Sell-Side/Equity Analyst & Portfolio Manager, went on to manage billions of dollars, mutual funds and other on the buy side for five years as an Investment Trust Officer/Senior Security Analyst, etc. Then because I knew I would have to move to another city to advance I started my own Registered Investment Advisor and grew it to a large practice/RIA today. And to think my high school counselor told my parents I “just wasn’t college material”. Finance is a wonderful field for women as it is something that can take you in many different directions. If you are a young woman, know that you do have what it takes if you are interested in the field of Finance. Do not let self doubt hold you back.

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