Nearly 50% percent of employees in the financial industry are women. You may be pleasantly surprised to see that statistic. However, what’s unfortunate is when companies use that statistic, and only that statistic to boast about their equitable workforce. But, just like in any industry, the data needs to go deeper.
For example, when we look at what positions are held by whom, we get a very different story. Take for instance the fact that only 22% of executives in finance are women, according to a Deloitte Report (see Figure 1 below). I’ve seen this number as low as 14% in other studies. Regardless, it paints a completely different picture. A picture I have personally experienced in my last decade.
Where we are today is higher than where we were ten years ago. We also expect to see that figure grow at an even faster rate in the next upcoming decade (see Figure 1 below). Before focusing on how that growth will occur, let's shine light on a few of the women that got us to where we are today.
WOMEN LEADING IN FINANCE TODAY
There are noteworthy women in finance that have already made it to the C-suite. Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Ellevest, created the first ever female run financial company that specifically serves women to reach $1,000,000,000 (that’s a billion!) in client investments. We also have big name firms fill their CEO positions with women. For example, there’s Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of J.P. Morgan Asset and Wealth Management, Yie-Hsin Hung, CEO of New York Life Investment Management, and Christine Hurtsellers, CEO of Voya Investment Management to name a few. Don’t worry ladies, there are plenty more where that came from.
Our industry is also impacted by the decisions made on a government level. It’s just as important to have representation there. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), who serves on the Senate’s Committee on Finance and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. In her various roles, she helps oversee federal regulatory agencies as well as works on policies concerning federal tax and revenue. Mary Daly is the CEO and President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Mary spends time on monetary policy, labor economics, and increasing diversity within the economics field. Of course, Janet Yellen, the first female Federal Chairman and now serves as the U.S. Treasury of Secretary (first woman to serve in that role, too!). Some of her and her cabinet’s responsibilities include paying all U.S. bills, collecting taxes, and managing federal finance.
This isn’t something you haven’t already heard: representation in all aspects of leadership is a must. Finance itself is quite a broad industry incorporating asset management, risk assessment, corporate finance, government, commercial banking, and more. It is important we continue to see more and more women fill these leadership positions in all areas of finance.
MY INFLUENCES IN FINANCE
If I could, I would sit down with each and every one of these women to hear their story. What propelled them to join this industry? How did they know to keep going? The entry level rate for women and men are close to equal. However, somewhere along the way women either drop out of the industry, remain in entry level positions, or are not given the same opportunities as the male counterpart. How did I make it through? Well, because of women. When I look back at my own journey in finance, I have many females that have helped me to where I’m at today.
Let’s start with my own mother. The amount of times I held back tears in a meeting, swallowed my discomfort, and bit my tongue are countless. A girl can’t hold that in forever, and that’s exactly where my mother came in. I called my mom nearly every day after work venting about the day’s hardship. Each conversation she listened and simply said, “take it one day at a time.” She encouraged me to push through. My mother would also emphasize the importance of leaning into those who encouraged me, and to FORGET about those who are trying to push me down. Thanks, ma!
I was extremely fortunate to have female leadership and coworkers in the first part of my career. I didn’t realize it so much at the time, but that was a unique opportunity. My boss and two coworkers in our small, but impactful, department were all females. I also created relationships with female financial advisors of the firm. One in which I eventually worked for. She mentored me, explained how to handle situations, and helped guide me to where I am today.
Without this exposure to other women in finance, who knows where I would have landed. I witnessed these women juggle their professional and personal lives, stay true to values, and thoroughly enjoy their work along the way. The value of this exposure is exactly what the next generation of women in finance need in order to achieve a greater representation in executive leadership.
THE NEXT GENERATION OF FEMALES IN FINANCE
The good news is that I’m not the only one who sees this. The next wave of women to make history in finance is already in the works. There are various organizations out there that set out to do just that. I’m going to highlight two of my favorites below.
Girls Who Invest
Girls Who Invest is a non-profit organization that focuses on “education, industry outreach, accessibility and career placement to inspire and support tomorrow's leading investors.” The organization was founded by Seema Hingorani who also serves as a managing Director at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. The goal of this organization is to get 30% of the world's investable capital to be managed by women by 2030. This organization has both in person (pre-COVID) and online programs for your daughters, nieces, cousins, sister, friend or whoever to enroll in. Find out more here.
Invest in Girls
Invest in Girls is another non-profit that is based out of New York. Although it is located on the east coast, they are currently offering an online platform for young women to be a part of. Their mission is to usher “the first generation of financially literate girls and increase the number of women working in finance.” Bingo! They have an online platform starting April 12th. Click here to learn more.
Each of these offerings are a non-profit, therefore, even if you don’t know someone who will benefit from their programs you can still support what they are doing by making a donation directly through their website.
We are living amongst women who have made history. I know from experience that seeing these women in executive positions is powerful, and just as powerful is working alongside influential females in finance. In order to have a greater representation of women in finance, we need to continue to encourage and support females at a young age through programs like Girls Who Invest and Invest in Girls. The true statistics aren’t something our industry should be proud of, however, the momentum and encouragement is something I’m hopeful for. If you or anyone you know would like to discuss what it’s like to be a female in finance, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a recommendation of Fyooz Financial Planning, Natalie Slagle CFP®, or Daniel Slagle CFP®. Past performance may not be indicative of future results and may have been impacted by events and economic conditions that will not prevail in the future. Therefore, it should not be assumed that future performance of any specific security, investment product or investment strategy referenced in the article, either directly or indirectly, will be profitable or equal to the corresponding indicated performance level(s). No portion of the article shall be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell any specific security or investment product or to engage in any particular investment or financial planning strategy. Any reference to a market index is included for illustrative purposes only, as it is not possible to directly invest in an index. Indices are unmanaged, hypothetical vehicles that serve as market indicators and do not account for the deduction of management fees or transaction costs generally associated with investable products, which otherwise have the effect of reducing the performance of an actual investment portfolio.