When the Women Advisors Forum conference kicks off Tuesday in Boca Raton, Fla., it will be opened with a session from Eleanor Blayney, president of Directions for Women.

Blayney founded Directions for Women, which is based in McLean, Va., following her career as a financial planner to serve women consumers and the financial advisors working with them. She also serves as consumer advocate for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

In a talk titled “Our Clients, Ourselves,” Blayney plans to address how advisors can better work with female clients, one of the fastest growing segments of the wealth advisory market.

On what attracted her to the wealth industry in 1990:

My first job after business school was working for a true, what we call here, a Beltway Bandit. These are these large consulting firms that consult to the government here in D.C. I was doing that for a couple of years, and it was very well paid, but I really was not having fun advising the government about finances and a variety of things. I said I really want to use what I’ve learned at business school, particularly about markets and investments and so forth, I really would like to be making eye contact with my clients versus just submitting reports to a large government agency, where there was really no human element involved. So I really wanted to have more one on one contact, and I got interested in this whole idea of personal financial planning. At that time, the profession was relatively new.


On what inspired her to create Directions for Women:

I was just aware that the way women thought about money was different. Their focus was different. The way they talked about money was different. The way they thought about it was different. I began to believe more and more that we needed to be reaching women in a different way to help them achieve their own financial confidence and security goals. There are many issues that hit women in a different, if not harder, way when it comes to financial planning. Women seem to—and there’s been a couple of studies that have been done—have less trust in advisors. My sense is that their needs are greater, but we are not speaking to them effectively.

On what she plans to talk about at the Women Advisors Forum on Tuesday:

What I want to talk to the women in the room about is, first of all, why we are awesome advisors to the women’s market. There’s a lot of discussion as to whether we have an advantage or not when it comes to serving women. We’re all looking at women now. The advisory community as a whole is trying to figure out how to reach these women, how to create trust, how to capture their increasing wealth and decision-making authority over how to build wealth. I want to talk to these women about what they already have that might make them particularly effective in doing so.

Lorie Konish writes for On Wall Street.