After being approached by seniormanagement about wanting to recruit more female advisors, I remember what a branch manager said in a thick southy [South Boston] accent, while colorfully describing Yours Truly, "Stick a dolla' on the table, and she'll fight ya for it."
While the encounter still makes me laugh, I know that the Bostonian had it wrong. The loyalty factor with women generally trumps all. And that extends to both her clients and the firm for which she works. While it's a slightly different world today, there's no mystery on how to attract quality female advisors in the financial industry. The stories below illustrate the point.
In the 18 years that Anne, a producing manager, has been in the business, she has built and maintained a solid $800,000 book with around $90 million in assets under management.
When I asked her why our attempts to woo female advisors were unsuccessful, Anne said that when she was solely an advisor, she stayed with one firm during that period, kept her nose to the grindstone working and shunned recruiting calls. Anne's thoughts are typical. She knew her company very well, but not the competition or how to beat it.
The lesson learned is that recruiting managers need to be more creative when trying to attract women to their firms.
One of my recruiters just moved a female advisor I'll call Kate in the New York City area. Kate had been at a wirehouse for 10 years, where she has produced around $700,000 with $100 million in assets.
After two years of pursuing her, Kate finally agreed to a meeting because she "knew" the manager at the other firm. After their first meeting, Kate agreed that it was time for a change. Kate's decision had been the right one. Not only did she secure a retirement nest egg, she has moved over 85% of her assets along with bringing in new ones. "I was never fully comfortable where I was," she said. "There were several managers in and out of there, and I never knew if they were fully behind me. They were slaves to the company, and it didn't bode well with my entrepreneurial spirit.
"I have worked with John [her new manager] before, and I believe he's got mine and my clients' best interests at heart," she added. "I expect to be a million-dollar producer in the next year or two."
A friend, "David," has recruited multiple women. He agrees that recruiting men and women takes different approaches. Men tend to be concerned with the deal structure, what the products look like and how the accounts transfer; women want to know about the "experience." Generally, women need to feel comfortable with the person they work for and stay with the manager much longer than do men. On the flip side, when women are fed up, they leave quickly.
One of David's recent female recruits, who had been at a wirehouse for 25 years, was concerned about a career transfer and couldn't find the right fit with advisors in her office. She had befriended an advisor at David's office. The advisor convinced her to meet with David and consider the company's business-succession program. The package appealed to her, but what sealed the deal was that she got the sense that her clients' investments would be safe with the new firm. Within a three-month period over 90% of the assets had transferred. She's now enjoying a lucrative relationship while phasing out of the business. So if you want to recruit women, stay in touch with advisors in your own office who have forged relationships with them. In the case of David's recruit, she had never met another recruiting manager before.
Dana, who worked at a wirehouse for 20 years, was having problems with her male partner. Her branch manager didn't have the tolerance or interest in dealing with her, an older female advisor, and would side with the male partner. Then Dana reached out to a friend at another firm. She ended up joining the firm and partnering up with her friend there. Once again, a previous relationship trumped recruiting calls. Wall Street has certainly come a long way from the "Boom Boom Room" days. And firms do make an extra effort to nurture their strongest female advisors.
But it's a two-way street. If women put themselves outside their comfort zones to explore opportunities and elevate their careers, they would make even more progress.
On the other hand, recruiting managers need know where women look first for information. Whether it be with friends or family if you, as a manager are the one there when a woman advisor wants to make a move, you could gain a valuable asset for your firm. And if she's trying to fight you for that dollar on the table, it probably belonged to her to begin with.
Carri Degenhardt-Burke runs Degenhardt Consulting
in Jersey City, N.J. For further information, call 201-395-0222
or, go online at www.degenhardtconsulting.com.