Edward Jones is taking a second crack at increasing the number of its women advisors, following a similar effort in 2009.

That's according to Monica Giuseffi, who heads up the firm's Financial Advisor Inclusion and Diversity program. The first time out, it set a bold goal of increasing its number of women advisors from 17.5% to 50%, according to Giuseffi.

However, it failed to meet the 50% objective.

The goal was admittedly ambitious, given that SIFMA says women advisors comprise just 19% of all advisors in the country. In the intervening, eight years, Edward Jones says it has brought the number of its female advisors up to the national level.

NO NEW FUNDING
There are few differences between the 2009 initiative and the one launched this month. The program has the same name as before, the Women's Initiative for New Growth Strategies or WINGS. There is no new funding allocated for the program, Giuseffi said, although it has been restructured to make an impact this time around, including by adding more local leaders.

Slideshow
Advisors on the Move: Wirehouses lose 18 teams with nearly $10B
Regional brokerages and firms that assist breakaway advisors have been picking off top talent at the wirehouses.


The relaunch announcement followed a public pledge that Edward Jones Managing Partner Jim Weddle made in June to hire a more diverse workforce. He joined 150 other CEO signatories from companies like P&G and T-Mobile in signing the so-called CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge, which claims to be "the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion." It is organized by ceoaction.com.

Monica Giuseffi speaking at Edward Jones annual WINGS/Bridge event on September 5, 2017.
Monica Giuseffi speaking at Edward Jones annual WINGS/Bridge event on September 5, 2017.

The low number of women advisors nationwide remains a vexing problem for the industry given that women make up 57% of the work force and currently control 51% of personal wealth, also according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

'HONORABLE WORK'

One factor keeping women from seeking a career as an advisor, Giuseffi says, is reputational fallout from criminals like Bernie Madoff and negative portrayals of brokers in movies like "The Wolf of Wall Street."

However, the industry's corrupt image is "just not true," Giuseffi says.

"There isn’t more honorable work [than] to ensure people retire with dignity and they have the ability to send kids to college," she adds.

It's a message she says that Edward Jones intends to get out to convince more women of the merits of helping others to better manage their money.