Young Women & Opportunities in Financial Services
The financial services industry is primed to welcome a new generation of women leaders. However, traditional mindsets around roles may limit that future.
The talents needed to succeed in financial services roles are no different than many traditional female-dominated professions such as nursing or teaching. These include empathy, education, relationship-building, communication and problem solving. The inequality we find in the financial services industry today (and other male-dominated fields) could be the result of decades of misappropriating women’s inherent skill-sets. And, as we look to help guide younger women, the solution to gender inequality can begin before a career path is forged.
Opportunities in financial services are often not presented to young girls or college women. Looking beyond the dizzying terms and analysis associated with finance and micro- and macro-economic theory there is an entirely different dimension often not considered. Instead of a role that is calculating “total return”, how about a role that “impacts a life?” There are many roles, from investment analysts, portfolio managers or wealth advisors that can place a woman in close proximity to helping individuals and families enjoy retirement, send children to college, buy a 2nd home or fund a lifelong bucket list item. Instead of asking children what they want to be when they grow up, we should ask what they think their talents are or what they do best.
It starts in middle school
The reason for the scarcity in women pursuing a career in finance starts as early as middle school. In a Microsoft study, they found that between the ages of 12 and 15, girls lose interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects. In addition, they found that despite the high priority that is placed on STEM in schools, especially in expanding female interest, there was still a decrease in the number of girls interested in STEM. Many girls citing that it was due to peer pressure—girls were not rewarded like boys in their efforts socially for pursuing STEM subjects.
The studies have spoken
Yes, it is concerning on a gender equity level that women aren’t pursuing careers in finance, but it is also concerning for firms themselves. Studies have indicated that women are better investors than men. According to a study conducted by Warwick Business School, they found that women outperformed men at investing by 1.9 percent. In addition, women were found to outperform men because of their skills and dedication to long-term goals and view (FA Magazine). Women tend to focus on a family’s financial goals over investment performance.
As a female in the financial services industry, I see how women are more adept at reading social cues, paying attention to the pace and tone of clients’ speech and forming authentic relationships with clients. Of course, women do not have a domination on these skills. Men have them, too. And to some degree, these skills can be developed—by both women and men—through training. But female advisors tend to address financial decisions with empathy and directness, which I feel provides an approach that can set their female clients on the right track. Contrast this approach with the investment-driven, “win/lose” proposition that has been the more traditional approach.
Younger women entering the field need mentors to help them develop their careers, supporters to recognize their achievements, and to boost their self-confidence. Unfortunately, the financial services industry can appear uninviting to women, as most executives and decision makers on the front lines are men. When talented women looking to advance their careers see other women at the helm of a firm, they can more readily anticipate their own progress toward leadership roles. That is why a growing number of financial institutions such as Calamos Wealth Management, are creating programs to actively recruit and support women in key leadership roles.
I keep asking the same question: If women are statistically better performers than men in the “art” of providing financial services, why aren’t there more women on the front-lines of today’s leading firms? My answer revolves around you, the mothers of the next generation. We need to support and nurture self-confidence within our girls. But more importantly, we need to change the characterization of financial services from “number crunching” to that of “impacting a life.” It is about being a woman at the center of connecting with people, helping them through some of life’s most complex challenges, and enjoying the satisfaction of seeing clients achieve their life’s financial goals.
Calamos Wealth Management LLC is an investment advisor registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Calamos Wealth Management LLC is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice.
This material is distributed for informational purposes only. The information contained herein is based on internal research derived from various sources and does not purport to be statements of all material facts relating to the information mentioned, and while not guaranteed as to the accuracy or completeness, has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable. The opinions referenced are as of the date of the publication, are subject to change due to changes in the market or economic conditions, and may not necessarily come to pass.
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