Seventy percent of female financial advisers say women investors are underserved as a broad demographic group, Edward Jones learned from a survey conducted during its third Annual Women’s Conference. This reinforces findings from the Center for Talent Innovations that discovered 75% of women under the age of 40 do not have a financial adviser. This amounts to $5 trillion in under-leveraged assets, Edward Jones says.
“With nearly 60% of wealth in the United States owned by women, amounting to over $11 trillion in assets, it is important that the financial services industry engages and deeply serves this critical group,” says Katherine Mauzy, principal of financial adviser talent acquisition at Edward Jones. “We are committed to understanding the specific concerns and challenges facing our female clients, which enables us to both attract and retain them.”
Ninety-four percent of survey respondents said that leveraging existing client relationships through word of mouth is the strategy they use to attract new female clients. Fifty-five percent partner with other financial professionals, and 30% create women’s networking groups.
Nineteen percent said there have been no advancements in the past three to five years to ensure women receive equal opportunities in the financial services industry as men. Fifty-one percent said advancements have been made, but there is still much more work that needs to be done to attract women financial advisers.
Fifty-two percent said that if women were in top executive positions at financial services firms, that would attract more women to the industry. Edward Jones said this complements findings from a study by The Rockefeller Foundation that found 76% of women consider whether there are women in leadership positions when deciding where to work.
Twenty-three percent of those surveyed said it is important to offer internal networking and mentorship opportunities to attract and retain women to the industry, 17% pointed to generous maternity leave policies, and 8% said guaranteeing and enforcing equal pay for equal work.
“Although much work has been done in the financial services industry to level the playing field, there remains a gap in ensuring women are given the opportunities and tools they need to succeed,” says Monica Guiseffi, principal of financial adviser inclusion and diversity at Edward Jones.
Asked about the challenges for the financial services industry in 2018, survey respondents said new or impending regulations are the biggest challenge, although only 8% said they believe this is a concern of their clients. Rather, 50% said they believe their clients are most concerned about outliving their retirement savings, and 31% said they are worried about long-term care expenses.
The Edward Jones survey was conducted among 103 women advisers at the conference, held at the firm’s St. Louis headquarters in late February. Out of the firm’s 3,100 women advisers, only the top 250 qualified to attend the conference.