Champions of diversity recognize that every single effort counts and contributes toward progress in the achievement of parity. As we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) and strive to reach a ‘Balance for Better’, this year’s IWD theme, numerous published reports and surveys correlating positive company performance to gender-diverse organizations are encouraging and compel us to push this cause forward. It follows that 90 percent of financial services companies say they are committed to gender diversity according to a McKinsey & Company report focused on this topic.

For as long as anyone can recall, the composition of talent in Wealth Management constituted a community of wealth managers who ‘looked’ just like their investor clients. And perhaps, for that reason, there were very few who challenged that status quo. But we are, thankfully, in a very different time now. And many of us are committed to driving change through education, support and mentorship with the aspiration of building a strong talent pipeline and bringing career opportunities to women.

This is the mission of Envestnet Institute on Campus’ Women in Wealth Management, an initiative that has grown from 20 college women who have completed the program in 2015 to 638 today. The dedicated women at the forefront of this initiative are, themselves, a true representation of diversity—from their cultural backgrounds and ethnicities to their career paths and professional roles. We share a common cause while welcoming the unique ideas, interests and perspectives that drive the results this team has achieved in our work to nurture tomorrow’s women leaders. Partnered with me are these incredible women whose voices and passion projects can be ‘heard’ here:

I’m excited by the opportunities for the next generation. It’s a competitive talent market and we need to understand where consumers are coming from and create teams that more accurately reflect the clients they serve. Through targeted recruitment, internal tasks forces, and advocating on behalf of our employees, we can pay it forward in the industry.

Noreen Beaman

Chief Executive Officer, Brinker Capital

Junior Ambassadorship is mentoring times two!  It’s a training ground for our mentors via the sharing of knowledge and wisdom with senior industry executives who then share with their mentees. It encourages ‘pay it forward’ volunteerism and is gratifying in both the give and take of the dialogue we all have with each other. In the words of Margaret Mead, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’  The WIWM Board and our Junior Ambassadors are that small group!

Nancy Camarata

VP, Manager, Managed Account Group, Neuberger Berman

Vulnerability is at the heart of success. It’s the act of being open and allowing yourself to lean into the ‘uncomfortable’. Taking risks isn’t always natural for women but to be an effective entrepreneur, you must. Should you fail, it’s important to learn from it, but don’t dwell on it. Having resilience and confidence in yourself is more than half the battle to achieving success.

Lori Hardwick

Founder & President, Advisor Innovation Labs

Women account for approximately 51% of the U.S. population and outnumber college-graduating men as well as men in the workforce yet we only hold about 19% of senior level positions in the wealth management industry. To change that, we must educate and encourage more women to join us and help inspire the next generation of female leaders. The EIOC Women in Wealth Management Mentorship program is doing just that.

Jean Hempel

Managing Director, Enterprise Consulting, RIA Network, Envestnet, Inc.

Technology is changing our lives at near warp speed and I can think of few industries as ripe for change as financial services. The intersection of finance and technology – fintech – is growing and moving faster every day. There are fewer entrenched structures and ideas. Now is an ideal time for women to disrupt and make a difference and getting young women into the pipeline and supported in their careers is critical.                                  

Estee Jimerson

Managing Director, Head of Asset Manager Distribution, Envestnet, Inc.

Branding is about how you want to appear to the world—defining who you are and what you want to be known for, and then communicating that message. It’s about your reputation and the value you provide. Self-promotion is an important component of branding; women often struggle with it, worrying we’ll be viewed as ‘bragging’. That inner dialogue must change.  To position for long-term success, recognize who you are and the expertise, passion and value that you bring—and make sure others know too.

Robyn F. Pollack, Esq.

CEO & Founder, Trellis Consulting

My number one tip for women seeking to re-enter the workforce? Don’t discount experiences you’ve had outside the office. Financial services firms know that building connections with women investors is key to their future success. The power of the purse is very real! In an increasingly customer-centric world, bringing your life-experience—and judgement that can only be gained over time—is of tremendous value. Seek out firms committed to bringing diversity of thought to bear in solving client problems that also invest in essential technical or functional training. That is the power and promise of Returnship programs. Go for it!                          

Tricia Rothschild

Chief Product Officer, Morningstar

Creating a more inclusive industry for underrepresented groups is a marathon, not a sprint. Do not be disillusioned. Even with the best of intentions, we cannot erase years of inequity overnight. We must be committed for the long term.                          

Jocelyn Wright, MBA, CFP®, RICP®

Managing Partner, The Ascension Group

Throughout my 30+ years in the workforce, and specifically, in wealth management, I have endeavored to surround myself with the best people. To me, this means being around diverse mindsets from people who offer a different view.  This is how we learn. This is how we grow. And this is how we succeed. Life, business, the world become far more interesting when we invite others in. To the women—and men—who champion change every day, happy International Women’s Day!