How will we crack the code?
Attracting more women into financial services starts with appealing to their fundamental values
Not only do women currently make the majority of household financial decisions in this country, they also constitute the majority of wealth owners. However, they are not represented in the same proportion in the financial services industry – the very sector that is meant to advise these women on their financial decision-making.
There are myriad reasons for this, most notably that the financial industry has been historically male dominated. In earlier times, there weren’t as many women at the helm of their family’s financial well-being, nor would women have considered financial services a viable career path.
Times have changed. These days, industry leaders are recognizing the need for equitable representation, and many are taking steps toward a more diverse and inclusive culture. They recognize the value that women can add to the financial advisory profession and strive to support women on their journey to success.
Gender parity and inclusion of all people is simply the right thing to do. On moral grounds alone, it needs to be realized. There is also a business imperative for attracting diverse populations to our business. Baby boomers are retiring in large numbers leaving a huge talent shortage in our industry. That gap needs to be filled. Studies show that our existing recruitment channels simply will not meet today’s hiring needs. Women are an obvious source of talent for us. Trends indicate that both women and men enjoy working with female advisors, a point that is underlined by the fact that the proportion of wealth in the United States held by women will grow from one half to two-thirds by 2020.
Gone are the days when a career in financial services could be advertised solely on the basis of economic success. “Achieve unlimited income potential!” the ambitious slogans proclaimed. And it worked: it attracted a largely male population into sales careers that were initially tough, but in the long run financially rewarding.
While the potential for financial upside remains a big draw, it does not appear to be the only driver to attracting people today. Not to say that women don’t want to achieve financial success – they do. They are however, strongly motivated by values and purpose. Work needs to have meaning: it needs to generate a feeling of fulfillment and significance. We hear this is what women want – and we agree! Who wouldn’t want to earn money knowing that they were doing meaningful work?
At our firm, we have identified a series of core values, which we strive to live in an effort to make our environment more welcoming and attractive to all, but especially to female candidates. These values are:
- Making an impact
- Having a voice
- Establishing a well-defined career path
- Flexibility, and
- An innovative culture.
We know that depending on the individual the priority may vary. However, what has become readily apparent through our research and practice – is that these are all critically important to attracting and retaining women.
Making an impact
We believe that a career as a financial advisor is an opportunity to serve in the lives of others. Our everyday work has impact well into the future – whether it’s helping a family plan for a child’s education, a business owner plan for retirement, or an individual plan for the unexpected.
In our line of work compassion and empathy go a long way. Helping people begins with listening to them, hearing what they fear, discovering their dreams, and working with them to identify solutions that will give them confidence in moving forward toward their goals.
As corporate citizens, we do our part to maximize our positive impact in the communities we serve. This includes investing more than $20 million annually to support initiatives focused on economic opportunity. We empower employees to choose causes and grantees for community investment. We offer financial education to middle and high school students across the country, and we help fund college educations by issuing term life insurance policies to the children of eligible working parents. Last but not least, we help sustain our planet through a strategy focused on conservation, efficiency and renewable energy.
Having a voice
We recognize the importance of having a voice in the things that matter. Women want to have access to the same level of support and professional development that men have enjoyed for so long. Research by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. supports that women are less likely than men to get advancement opportunities in their careers. We want to change that. Our commitment to empowering women’s voices is founded in giving women the opportunity to shape their own careers. It also means giving women a voice into shaping issues that define our larger organization.
At our firm, national and regional study groups foster networking and enable advisors to learn from and influence their peers. Every advisor has the opportunity to actively participate in the MassMutual Advisors Association (AAX), which represents all MassMutual advisors on issues affecting policyholders and advisors since 1890. The MassMutual General Agents Association (GAX) serves as the voice of cooperation, interdependence and communication between home office associates, field associates and among general agents/managing partners.
A well-defined career path
According to the 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express, women make up 40% of new entrepreneurs, a number that has been on an uninterrupted upward trajectory since the early 1970’s. The number of firms owned by minority women has grown 163% since 2007. Many women are drawn to a career in financial services because of the opportunity to pave their own way. Entrepreneurship allows for control, flexibility, economic upside, and much more.
At our firm, we believe in working for yourself, but not by yourself. We know that success comes from collaboration. We guide our advisors to well-established paths for success, and then provide the support, training and teaming necessary to get people to where they want to go.
Speaking of teaming: the lone advisor is a relic of the past. Both clients and advisors benefit from collaborative, team-based approaches to service and guidance. Clients want to know that their advisory teams have depth and breadth. Multi-generational clients, especially, look to their financial advisor to have in place succession plans to serve the next generations of their families. We know that teaming is particularly well suited to the way female advisors prefer to work: in conjunction with others.
Who doesn’t appreciate transparency? People deservedly want to know where they stand in their relationships. We know that the keys to any good relationship are honesty, clarity and mutual fulfillment. For this reason, we strive for transparency in our everyday communications and our interactions.
At the corporate level, our commitment to being ‘above board’ in our transactions has earned us recognition and accolades, including but not limited to:
- Score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index (2018)
- National Association for Female Executives Top Company for Executive Women (2017)
- Diversity Inc. Noteworthy Company (2017)
- Disability Equality Index® (DEI) Best Place to Work for Disability inclusion (2017)
- National Organization on Disability Leading Disability Employer Seal (2017)
- Working Mother Media 100 Best Company (2017)
- Military Friendly Employer (2018)
Last but not least, women want an innovative work culture. While the financial services industry is quite mature, it does not mean that firms need to hold on to outdated cultures and norms. We don't need to be a startup to offer the excitement and opportunities of working in a startup.
A commitment to innovation is rooted in openness to new ideas and new ways of doing things. At our firm, we see change as necessary for survival and success. In this rapidly evolving world, we are committed to investing in cutting-edge technology and top-tier products that give our advisors an edge.
What we are learning
There is so much that we are learning as we embrace change. In the process of attracting women to our firm, we are learning that what attracts women is desirable to other demographics, too.
We now know what it will take to make our industry welcoming to not only women, but also to Millennials and minority populations. We know the values we must embody to create environments where everyone can succeed. We know that providing a career option that is rooted in values and purpose will attract the right people to our mission for the right reasons, and will only amplify our impact.
We know that when we do the right thing, the money will inevitably come. Because, as Simon Sinek said it in his famous TED Talk, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
When we start with values and purpose, everything else falls into place.
For more information about careers with MassMutual Greater Philadelphia, contact Mary Ann Patton: 610-766-3083
 Bank of Montreal’s Wealth Institute: Financial Concerns of Women Report, March 2015
 FlexPaths: Building the Bridge for Culture Change - A Mandate for 2020, October 2017
 Wall Street Journal: Clients Want To Work With Female Advisors And Firms Are Taking Notice, August 2019
 Boston Consulting Group: Women’s Wealth Is Rising, March 2018