The Ranks of Advisers May Attract More Women

Financial advising as a career for women is projected to grow 32% from 2010 to 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Even though most women (70%) would prefer to work with a female adviser, currently only three in 10 advisers are female. This presents a significant opportunity for female advisers, as women continue to own a greater share of financial assets and take more control of financial decision making, the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) said in a survey. 

In its report, “Women and Financial Advising Careers: Perspectives and Priorities,” IRI outlined strategies to recruit women to the advisory field. In 2009, according to the report, women controlled 27% of investable assets globally. In 2011, 51% of working women were employed in management and professional occupations, with 24% as executives. In 2010, the proportion of wives earning more than their husbands was 29%.  

Yet women feel underserved by the financial services industry. The Boston Consulting Group found more than half of the women surveyed felt that wealth managers could do a better job of meeting the needs of female clients—and nearly a quarter think that wealth managers could significantly improve how they serve women. 

“What we have is a women’s market that is flourishing,” said Cathy Weatherford, president and chief executive of IRI. “By and large, women consumers would prefer to work with women advisers. The financial advising field is already experiencing considerable growth, but given the emergence of the women’s market, the opportunities for women advisers are more than substantial.” 

Other findings from the report are:  

  • The survey of college-educated women aged 25 to 49 found job-training provisions would increase the likelihood of women pursuing careers as financial advisers. On-the-job training would be the most effective, followed by online training or training through a local college or university.
  • When evaluating a job, 94% of college-educated women value work/life balance. Among other very or extremely important factors, 90% value a good relationship with their boss, 87% value meaningful work, 85% value good relationships with colleagues, and 85% value salary.
  • Salary considerations and growth of the field were the primary drivers for women who expressed an interest in becoming a financial adviser
  • Firms can enhance their appeal to women by providing affinity groups and mentoring programs to enhance on-the-job training. When recruiting female advisers, firms should emphasize these programs as well as efforts to improve work/life balance to overcome perception barriers regarding generating clients and job stress.
  • Testing associated with licensing to become a financial adviser does not inhibit most women from pursuing the profession. Three-quarters of women said testing has no influence on their interest in becoming an adviser. 


“Firms’ ability to recruit and retain women advisers is only going to grow in importance,” Weatherford said.  

The IRI commissioned an independent research firm to survey 603 college-educated women ages 25 to 49 to determine how to recruit women into the financial advisory profession. The survey was fielded through telephone interviews in March.  

The complete report can be downloaded here