As a woman executive in the financial services industry, I’m a rare breed. While I was finding my path, there were few successful women to emulate. And now, over 25 years into my career, that’s still the case. Although there’s been some progress, women account for only 22% of leadership roles at financial services firms. What’s more, only 18% of registered investment advisors are women. For Hispanics, Blacks and Asians, the numbers are even worse. With so few minorities and women to look up to, the industry is trapped in a perpetual cycle of hiring and promoting employees that are overwhelmingly white and male.*
The small gains women have made can be largely credited to the work they have done themselves. Women’s networking and mentoring groups have given women the space to talk about challenges and share ideas about how to overcome them. We have been empowered by one another’s professional achievements – as well as setbacks– to learn and grow.
But these women-only efforts, by definition, include only a small fraction of the industry. The 18% can’t move the needle on their own. We need to bring others to the table, to participate in the conversations and be part of the effort to find and implement solutions. And we need to direct our efforts at all levels of an organization: to attract and hire more women and minorities, train and support them at mid-career and ultimately promote them to leadership positions. That is how we will bring about the needed changes.
In my role as executive vice president at Alera Group and practice leader of Alera Wealth Services, I am charged with executing an aggressive growth plan to expand our number of financial advisors and assets under management. But just as high a priority is growing our diversity, and I’m proud to be a part of Alera Group’s efforts to address the issue on multiple fronts.
- I am the vice-chair of our dedicated Women’s Steering Committee that is part of Alera Group’s Inclusion and Diversity council, dedicated to helping women and minorities to see and plan a career path.
- 50 women executives from across the country and across our four divisions form Alera Group’s Women Leadership Committee that designs programs to support and nurture the next generation of women leaders.
- We launched a mentorship program to match up-and-coming female professionals with experienced women and men who can provide guidance, insight and advocacy.
- Our networking program, Women in Insurance and Investments Network, provides opportunities for women in the organization to connect with other women to share ideas, knowledge and resources.
Every investment professional will tell you that diversification of a portfolio is key to managing risk and achieving long-term growth objectives. By the same token, a diverse mix of human perspectives, experiences and backgrounds helps organizations reduce the risk of biases and costly mistakes, attract and retain talent, and remain relevant for the long term. That is a vision we all share for the future of Alera Group and the financial services industry as a whole. That’s why I invite all industry leaders to join me in acknowledging the challenges women and people of color still face, and to put plans in place to nurture, support and advance them in your own organizations. Doing so will move us all toward a better future.
About the Author
Tina Hohman is an Executive Vice President at Alera Group and serves as the National Practice Leader of Wealth Services.
*Sources: Deloitte Insights, Within reach? Achieving gender equity in financial services leadership, 2019; and Cerulli Associates and the Investment Adviser Association, Driving Diversity: Opportunities for Action in the RIA Marketplace, April 2021.