Early Years Are Formative for Female Advisers’ Success, Survey Shows

Female advisers reported needing up to 10 years of experience to feel confident in their profession.

Women are more likely to stay at financial advisory firms when given confidence by their employers early in their career, according to a white paper from OneAmerica that examined the motivations, hurdles and success factors key to the recruiting and retention of female advisers.

In a survey of more than 200 female advisers, retirement and financial services firm OneAmerica found that confidence is a key determinant of success for female advisers. Seventy percent of women with 15 years or more of experience said they took between four and 10 years to begin feeling confident in their profession. A OneAmerica white paper based on the survey suggested this could be a reason for high attrition in the financial services industry, as women may have chosen to leave the profession before they had time to find their confidence.

“My first reaction when I saw these results was that we could make a difference,” said Sandy McCarthy, president of retirement services at OneAmerica, in a statement. “We’re really seeing just how significant and formative an advisor’s first few years can be. Being aware is the first step.”

Female advisers reported to OneAmerica various obstacles in their career, which could be combining to deter talent from remaining in the industry. Early-career advisers said top obstacles they faced early on were knowledge and training. However, these were not as significant for advisers with five or more years of experience.

Advisers of all levels said that among their top five stressors were work-life balance and new sales. Meanwhile, the least stressful areas included serving clients and incentive-based compensation.

According to the white paper, respondents said that the culture of the firm is typically integral to their success, with that culture displayed by empowerment, work-life balance and continued opportunities for advisers to learn and develop. However, early-career advisers reported empowerment as significantly less important than their more experienced counterparts.

In December 2022, the survey results were shown to a select group of industry professionals. OneAmerica plans to share the results with individual adviser firms this year to help them recruit and nurture female advisers. The OneAmerica Female Retirement Professionals Program has additional events and programming underway to advocate for women in financial services.

 “From here, we can work together as an industry — not only to get women in the door, but to support, retain and grow them throughout their careers,” McCarthy said. “There’s incredible opportunity here.”