We started to interview female financial advisors from all pockets of the country for our future book. As we listen to their challenges and successes, one element really surprised us, especially considering that it’s 2016!
It turns out that being taken seriously as a women in a man’s world is still a dominating factor that contributes to the battle for credibility. We’ve heard that this issue still exists and that it is completely across the male board from upper management, colleagues, COIs and event clients. It’s hard to imagine that in 2016 women advisors are still being called “honey” and “sweetie” while being asked to retrieve coffee for everyone (all the men) as if they are an assistant. Or clients actually walking away from the table because the advisor is a women.
Imagine the level of frustration a female advisor must experience from not feeling as though she has value. Imagine the level of exhaustion a female advisor must feel from needing to constantly prove herself to others and then again to herself. Imagine the level of discomfort a female advisor must feel to be invisible in a room flooded with dark suits where everyone is shaking hands except with her. One of our interviewees said it best, “Women who succeed are made of steel.”
Please don’t think that every person out there who is a male in this industry contributes to this type of treatment towards women advisors. On the contrary. We personally know many, many men and firms who are incredibly supportive of women as advisors.
Many of the women we spoke to have experienced all the good that their firms have to offer. And equally so, many have experienced the bad along their path. It’s these voices that we feel are particularly important to share in order to increase awareness that although some gender bias and discrimination has melted away, much is still lingering … in fact enough that several female advisors told us they would not recommend this industry to other women they know. That is counterproductive to what the industry is hoping to accomplish in the years ahead.
Here’s what some female advisors are saying … their thoughts, feelings, and experiences are in some cases downright shocking. If you’re reading this as a female advisor, what will you do if/when you experience this feeling or action? If you’re reading this as a head of a firm, what can be done at your firm to ensure your female advisors never feel this way?
“Being young and a woman, clients didn’t see me as a subject matter expert. Now I know to stay out of the weeds.”
“Old men have old views of women. I keep my head down and don’t rock the boat.”
“It feels like my opinion doesn’t matter … especially if I’m put in front of a businessman over 50 who was raised in an environment where men pulled each other up and don’t respect what women say.”
“Men are men with no professional boundaries. Many COIs look at lunch as a date.”
“I remember many times where I was not treated as an equal. The guys would shake everyone’s hand in the room except mine. Instead, men treated me like I was the assistant, asking me to get coffee, etc.”
“It’s not as accepted to say what I think without being called a “Bitch”.
“Many men have an inappropriate view of women advisors especially when with another male advisor.”
As the industry struggles to attract more female advisors, we felt it important for the industry to know how women advisors are feeling. If you know an influencer or head of a firm that should read this … please pass it on.