tina_tehranchian

It’s not just me saying it. Enter a room full of financial advisors at any industry gathering and you can see for yourself—women are clearly a minority in the fi nancial world.

According to a 2008 FPSC analysis, only one-third of the 17,000 CFP professionals in Canada are female. That’s surprising, considering many studies and anecdotes fi nd demand for female advisors is high. Still, things look brighter in Canada than they do across the border. A 2008 Reuters report suggests only about 20% of fi nancial advisors in the U.S. are women.

Interestingly, numbers are quite the opposite in some Asian countries. Statistics from an MDRT survey in 2000 showed women accounted for 79% of the membership in Taiwan; and 71% in Hong Kong. That same year, only 11% of MDRT qualifi ers from Canada were women.

Granted, this isn’t the easiest of jobs—you need to put in many hours during the early years, and you defi nitely need a supportive family. But this is also a career that allows enormous fl exibility in terms of work hours—a top priority for women with young kids.

As for client choice, it’s not just women who prefer female advisors. Women investors generally require more information before making investment decisions, and female fi nancial advisors are in tune with this need and have a more patient and educational approach to fi nancial planning. This approach is also appreciated by many male clients.

And, when it comes to dealing with couples, female fi nancial advisors have the upper hand as they take the wife seriously and usually establish trust and rapport with her. Even though women may have traditionally shied away from handling family investments, they’re usually in charge of day-to-day fi – nances and have a say in decisions about savings and investments.

Another golden opportunity for female fi nancial advisors lies in tapping the growing number of women of the boomer generation. Currently, 64% of seniors above the age of 80 are female. This population is in great need of fi nancial advisors with whom they can establish trust, and statistics show they feel most comfortable working with a female advisor.

Given all these opportunities and benefi ts, why aren’t more North American women fl ocking to this business? Does the problem lie with industry preconceptions, or has the industry neglected to recruit?

Since entering this business in 1991, I certainly haven’t seen a concerted effort by advisory fi rms to recruit more women. That, however, seems to be changing in the United States. Despite banks and securities fi rms cutting more than 120,000 positions between July 2007 and September 2008, a Bloomberg report fi nds women remained a hot commodity on Wall Street.

According to Cindy Waliczek, director of R & J Makay, a leading U.S. fi nancial recruiting fi rm, “The demand far exceeds the supply right now. If you’re a quali- fi ed woman with a desire to help people retain, grow and manage their wealth, then financial firms are eager to speak with you.”

Statistics suggest by 2010, 60% of the U.S. wealth is likely to be controlled by women, and that women prefer to deal with women. Financial fi rms in the U.S. seem to have fi nally woken up to the window of opportunity that exists in recruiting more women. Let’s hope Canadian fi rms will see the light soon, because the future certainly looks female.

Originally published in Advisor's Edge