Edward Jones Revives Dormant Effort to Recruit Women
When it comes to hiring women as financial advisors, Edward Jones is about average, with 19% of its brokerage workforce female.
While that’s an improvement from 17.5% in 2009, it is far below the and from Jones’s proclaimed goal of achieving a 50-50 gender split.
Although women control about 51% of the nation’s personal wealth, according to a 2015 study from the Bank of Montreal Wealth Institute, the U.S. brokerage industry remains heavily dominated by men and by a lingering old-boys culture, industry officials concede.
In a renewed attempt to find remedies to gender and racial imbalances, several firms are making efforts to improve mentorship programs, recruiting and training.
St. Louis-based Jones, which has the broadest network of retail brokerage geographic penetration in the U.S. with more than 12,000 small offices, has relaunched its Women’s Initiative for New Growth Strategies program. WINGS was begun in 2009 to attract, retain and develop senior leaders, lost momentum after the principal architect of the effort retired.
“There had been no shortage of desire or support for the program initially, but we weren’t moving the needle as far as would have liked,” the company said in a prepared statement when asked about the program. “We now have decided to…put more structure around it.”
It is one of several efforts among retail broker-dealers to improve gender and racial imbalances. RBC Wealth Management-U.S., for example, is promoting a new series of to attract women. The videos highlight the unusual backgrounds in areas such as Beltway politics, rocket science and the military of what it calls its successful female brokers.
“The need and opportunity for female financial advisors has never been greater,” Kristen Kimmell, chief of staff at the Royal Bank of Canada unit said in a prepared statement.
Jones’ efforts are being led by Monica Giuseffi, a broker who began her career in 2001 as a Jones advisor in Atlanta and who last year was named its principal in charge of financial advisor inclusion and diversity.
Adding women and minorities is still a “voluntary leadership” goal at Jones, but the company is putting teeth behind the effort by developing “a dashboard that measures, growth, attrition, performance, and leadership,” it said in the statement.
The hurdles for Jones and the rest of the industry, nevertheless, remain high. As a starter, many women are turned off by the production-based variable compensation structures at most firms, said Katherine Mauzy, the Jones principal in charge of “talent acquisition.”
Firms have only recently acknowledged the issue, but are hoping the industry-wide trend to advisory relationships and fee-based accounts will be more conducive to women.
“Women enjoy building deep client relationships and working with clients to establish goals and recommend solutions to achieve those goals,” said Mauzy. “The role is not a transactional role as it may have been perceived in the past.”
Like the new RBC marketing effort, Jones is focusing on “educating” women about the impact an advisor can have on communities and on evolving compensating formulas that help new brokers build practices, she said.