How your financial advisory firm benefits from women leaders

Today, women in the U.S. control more than $10 trillion in personal financial assets. That number is expected to rise to $30 trillion by 2030 as baby boomers continue to transfer wealth, between spouses and from parents to their adult children.1

Women are also increasingly earning their own wealth through business ventures. Between 2014 and 2019, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. grew 21% to 12.9 million, and those businesses generated $1.9 trillion a year (also a rise of 21%).2

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately hit women-owned businesses and women workers harder than their male counterparts, the U.S. has for decades steadily witnessed a rise in women entrepreneurship and a rise in women taking on C-suite roles in major U.S. companies. In fact, millennial women are entering the highest circles of asset ownership faster than women of previous generations.3

Wealth management firms should reflect the diversity of their clients

With women controlling more and more wealth, wealth management firms need to work harder to ensure their financial advisors understand women’s unique needs, challenges and goals. They also need to ensure they are hiring, developing and retaining women financial advisors, as well as, when deserved, promoting them to highest leadership roles. This focus on representation allows others to benefit from their knowledge and life experiences and shows other women that being a woman in a leadership role is possible.

That’s where Wipfli Financial Advisors especially shines. 80% of the firm’s leadership team are women. This is a proportion rarely seen in wealth management companies, and it has been valuable for Wipfli Financial. Because of this diversity at both the leadership and advisor levels, the firm is uniquely positioned to help women meet their goals and secure their financial futures no matter where they are in their lives.

Below, three of Wipfli Financial’s women leaders share some of their experiences with leadership, the financial services industry and women’s financial freedom.

Katie Cullen, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer

 Katie CullenQ: How can women leaders foster leadership development among women and men? Where are the best opportunities for women who wish to break into the financial services industry?

A: When people hear that I have spent my entire career in financial services, they often think that I work solely with spreadsheets and complex equations all day. The truth is that my 20+ years in financial services have primarily focused on guiding people in solving their problems and reaching their goals. And while a strong understanding of finance is crucially important, helping people is the foundation of financial planning and the reason why I have spent my entire career in financial services. It is also why I look forward to a time when more women consider a profession in financial services.

Most careers reward people for their hard work, active listening, teamwork, creativity and leadership, and careers in financial services are no different. These characteristics that often lead to success are the same characteristics that many women naturally possess, but often women are dissuaded from financial services because of the misunderstanding that we only work with numbers, not people.

Women often possess other talents that are highly regarded in our field, such as being collaborative, developing the potential in others and managing simultaneous tasks through to completion. And while many women naturally possess the skills that are needed and rewarded in financial services, sadly the numbers in and entering our industry are low.

I admire companies that hire the best person for the job and then take time to teach them to use their unique talents to do the work. With that combination, most professionals will experience success. However, if you add in mentorship from leaders who believe in the importance of diversity in the workplace and want to not only attract female professionals, but also develop and elevate them, significant success is often the result.

I hope we can change the current trend of a lack of diversity in financial services by attracting more women into our industry and then finding ways to retain them so they can pursue their professional priorities in an industry that is perfect a fit for many women’s natural talents.

Rafia Hasan, Chief Investment Officer and Principal

Rafia HasanQ: What do you think has had the greatest positive impact on women’s financial freedom in the past decade?

A: This is such a big question, and it is difficult to pinpoint just one thing. For me, one of the incredible things to witness over the past decade is seeing more and more women in top leadership positions in the fields of finance and economics across the globe — whether that be Janet Yellen serving as the first chairwoman of the U.S. Federal Reserve or Christine Lagarde as the first female head of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and now the ECB (European Central Bank).

In many cultures, men have traditionally been the ones who handle finances and are the gender considered “good with math.” In order for women to achieve financial freedom, I think it is critical that we break this line of thinking and empower women to have the confidence to take charge of their finances. Seeing strong women capable of managing the finances of an entire country (the U.S.) or region (Europe) has an important signaling effect for young women and girls to know that women can be good at math and handling their own money.

As a mother of three girls whose favorite books these days center around the lives of extraordinary women from the past and the present, I am regularly reminded of the importance of strong female role models to inspire girls to believe they are capable. We need these role models in the fields of finance as much as we need them everywhere else.

Lora Murphy, Senior Financial Advisor and Principal

Lora MurphyQ: Who or what inspired you to pick your career in the financial field?

A: I grew up in a family restaurant business and married a man in the restaurant industry. We always thought we wanted our own restaurant and to grow the business into multiple units, so I chose a career in accounting so I could provide the financial information for our business and my husband could provide his knowledge of the restaurant industry.

As we got more involved in our careers, our vision changed, and as I did more accounting compliance, I realized I liked planning for the future more than reporting on the past. I furthered my knowledge by obtaining my CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification to provide planning for my clients, which took me down the journey of becoming a financial planner and wealth manager.

My passion is helping people plan for their future, which I can multiply by growing and developing young advisors to help their clients plan for their future.

Find a financial advisor near you

Let Wipfli Financial Advisors help you reach your financial goals. Our diverse team of financial advisors — 40% of which are women — allows us to serve our clients no matter the background and expertise they desire. Contact us to find out more.

Related content:

Empowering women for life transitions: 5 ways to prepare
What women want … financially, that is
7 financial planning tips for women executives
Finding the right financial advisor: What questions to ask


How your financial advisory firm benefits from women leaders

Wipfli Financial Advisors, LLC (“Wipfli Financial”) is an investment advisor registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); however, such registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training and no inference to the contrary should be made. Wipfli Financial is a proud affiliate of Wipfli LLP, a national accounting and consulting firm. Information pertaining to Wipfli Financial’s management, operations, services, fees and conflicts of interest is set forth in Wipfli Financial’s current Form ADV Part 2A brochure and Form CRS, copies of which are available from Wipfli Financial upon request at no cost or at Wipfli Financial does not provide tax, accounting or legal services. The views expressed by the author are the author’s alone and do not necessarily represent the views of Wipfli Financial or its affiliates. The information contained in any third-party resource cited herein is not owned or controlled by Wipfli Financial, and Wipfli Financial does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of any information that may be found in such resources. Links to any third-party resource are provided as a courtesy for reference only and are not intended to be, and do not act as, an endorsement by Wipfli Financial of the third party or any of its content or use of its content. The standard information provided in this blog is for general purposes only and should not be construed as, or used as a substitute for, financial, investment or other professional advice. If you have questions regarding your financial situation, you should consult your financial planner, investment advisor, attorney or other professional.
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OneBite® is a Top 50 Financial Advisor Blog powered by Wipfli Financial Advisors. Founded in 2011, the digital magazine is dedicated to providing intelligent, in-depth coverage and analysis of the top financial and economic issues facing investors today.

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How your financial advisory firm benefits from women leaders

time to read: 5 min