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Why More Clients Want Female Financial Advisers: The Broadsheet

August 27, 2019, 9:59 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The U.S. Open unveils a statue of Althea Gibson, the Paycheck Fairness Act is stalled, and more clients want female financial advisors. Have a terrific Tuesday. 


- Money mavensWhile I can't say that I'm shocked by the fact that the financial services industry as a whole remains overwhelmingly male, I am a bit mystified that there are still so few female financial advisers. At last count, women made up about 15% of advisers—a percentage that has remained relatively flat for the past couple years.

This Wall Street Journal story touches on a couple of reasons for the gender gap (including "a lack of awareness about the financial adviser role and an aversion to what has been traditionally a sales-driven culture"), but directs most of its focus on a potential solution: client demand. It turns out that a growing number of potential customers are saying they want a female adviser. And if there's one thing that could get firms to actually focus on the gender diversity issue, that's it.

And no wonder people—including women, who control a growing percentage of the world's wealth—might gravitate toward a female adviser. An adviser needs financial chops, obviously, but she or he also has to be someone you can trust with your dreams, your fears, the money hangups many of us are so uncomfortable tackling—in other words: some of the most intimate aspects of your life. It's only logical that, the same way you might feel most comfortable with a female doctor or female therapist, some people are going to gravitate to female advisers. 

The WSJ story cites some concrete evidence that the field may be poised to improve, if slowly. For instance, UBS says women now account for 21% of financial advisers, up from from 19% in 2011, while Merrill Lynch Wealth Management says a record one-third of the roughly 3,500 employees in its U.S. adviser training program this year are women.

The issue also came up earlier this year at Fortune's Brainstorm Finance conference, when I interviewed Edward Jones managing partner Penny Pennington—the sole woman heading a major brokerage. Pennington, whose organization includes roughly 20% female advisers, discussed a somewhat controversial policy the firm has been experimenting with that provides a financial incentive for retiring advisers to refer their clients to a female or minority colleague. Not everyone at the firm liked the idea, Pennington says—including some women who felt that it implied they were getting an unfair advantage. But it has made a clear statement that Edward Jones is committed to fostering diversity in its ranks. Said Pennington: "It has raised a level of awareness that might not have been part of the conversation as much as it could have been or should have been. It's not the only way to do it, but we think it's a way to raise this conversation."

Kristen Bellstrom


- Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Paycheck Fairness Act passed the House in March. But it's still sitting dormant in the Senate. National Organization for Women president Toni Van Pelt writes for Fortune about why the Senate must pass it. Fortune

- Gibson gets her due. Ahead of the U.S. Open, the United States Tennis Association unveiled a statue of Althea Gibson. Before Serena and Venus, Gibson blazed the trail for black women in the sport. But while U.S.T.A. has honored Billie Jean King with the national tennis center in Flushing and Arthur Ashe with a statue and a stadium, Gibson, an 11-time Grand Slam winner, had gone without a similar honor—until now. New York Times

- A binary TSA. TSA searches take a binary approach to gender—leaving transgender or nonbinary travelers uncomfortable or worse during the airport security process. Searches and pat-downs can be invasive and traumatizing. ProPublica/Miami Herald 

- Extra Bush. Will it ever be time for a Billy Bush comeback? Billy Bush thinks so. The former TV host, who was disgraced by his presence alongside President Donald Trump in the Access Hollywood tape, is set to return to the medium as host of Extra Sept. 9. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Lynne Doughtie will not seek a second term as chairman and CEO of KPMG. Bianca Caban takes over as CEO of SheWorx, maintaining her role as head of partnerships for SheWorx owner Republic. 


- Epstein, 23 years ago. The earliest known allegations against Jeffrey Epstein were made 23 years ago by Maria Farmer. Farmer contacted the authorities to report that she had been assaulted by Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell after Epstein offered to help with her painting career—and that her 16-year-old sister Annie had been "subjected to a troubling topless massage" at the financier's ranch. Now the elder Farmer wonders "what might have happened if someone had taken her seriously." New York Times

- Goopify your life. Writer Amanda Mull went on a journalistic mission to "Goopify" her life with all the trappings of Gwyneth Paltrow's wellness brand. $1,279 later, Mull determines that "the act of shopping itself is the salve." But it's worth reading the entire journey: The Atlantic

- The Laurarati. You may have fond feelings about Little House on the Prairie, but do you love the series as much as these readers? Elena Nicolaou goes to the heart of Laura Ingalls Wilder fandom: annual gatherings in Minnesota and Wisconsin, where TV show fans, book purists, and academics all converge. Refinery29

Today's Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe. Share it with a friend. Looking for previous Broadsheets? Click here.


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"My ideal happens to be diversity. I love difference. I love change."

-Designer Isabel Toledo, who died at 59 on Monday. Toledo was known for designing First Lady Michelle Obama's 2009 inauguration dress.