Nearly twenty years ago, a business school colleague forwarded me a New York Times article entitled: Wall Street’s Women Face a Fork in the Road.
It noted that in a 2005 survey of 2,443 “highly qualified” women, “43 percent of women with children reported that they had left work voluntarily at some point in their careers. Of those, 93 percent wanted to return; 74 percent managed to do so, though only 40 percent of that group did so full-time. Only 5 percent of women looking to return to work wanted to return to the places they had left. And for those returning to business jobs, however, that figure was zero.”
As I reflect this month, which is Women’s History Month, I’d like to say we’ve come a long way. And in many ways, we have. COVID has certainly been a catalyst in shifting cultural norms about remote work, schedule flexibility, and work-life balance. Steady increases in female MBA applicants and female professionals among the junior ranks of alternative and private equity investment firms are promising.
But women are also reprioritizing community, impact, and family over career success, and the number of women in senior positions, especially within financial firms, still wanes as COVID increased the rates at which female executives in finance exited the industry.
At the same time, many women used the pandemic as an inflection point to leave employment behind and embark on a more entrepreneurial journey as financial advisors. And this seemed like the perfect time to share some bright news for their growing ranks.
In early 2022 the WealthiHer network, founded in 2019 by Tamara Gillan, partnered with data experts at Kantar UK, giving a glimpse into how COVID-19 impacted female financial habits, mindset, and approaches to investment.
- 55 percent of women say they have saved more and 63% have spent less;
- 35 percent of women say they have invested more than they had done prior to the pandemic; and
- 33 percent say they have given money to charity or their local community.
And with U.S. women expected to control >$30B in assets by the end of the decade, all advisors should note that 74 percent of the women surveyed say they wanted access to a trusted advisor, with a preference toward those who came personally recommended and who they felt were well aligned with their values and more emotionally-driven goals.
For the female advisors in the room, women also expressed a strong preference toward working with a female advisor, with 72 percent responding that they do not feel that the still male-dominated industry understands them.
As we take today to commemorate women’s accomplishments, support continued efforts toward professional gender equality, and promote global support for women, I salute the female advisors in our industry. With a renewed focus on attracting female talent, new working styles that help women balance personal and professional demands, and new resources and tools to sharpen their skills, the future ahead seems pretty bright.