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Deck Still Stacked Against Women But Tide Is Turning

April 1, 2016

A ranking of top financial advisors by the Financial Times confirms a major gender gap in the industry. Female advisors made up less than 10% of the winners in this year’s selection – the same percentage as 2014 and 2013, the publication writes.

But things may be looking up for female advisors. The average assets under management among the 34 women in the top 400 was $1 billion by the end of September 2015, which is 42% higher than the average managed by female advisors on last year’s list, according to the Financial Times. At the same time, average assets managed by male advisors in the FT 400 actually dropped 11%.

But even with the drop, male advisors managed more assets. The average fell from $1.8 billion last year to $1.6 billion this year, the publication writes.

The FT’s ranking of top advisors doesn’t quite represent the gender gap in the industry at large. Women advisors have been representing a bigger part of the industry, rising from just 26% of advisors overall in 2013 to 36% in 2014 and 38% in March 2015, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited by the publication. That’s despite the fact that some female clients say they prefer women advisors, and despite the claim by some female advisors that their feminine qualities – such as being good listeners and attention to detail – make them better at winning the business of both genders, the publication writes.

Female advisors are trying to reach female customers. This year will see the launch of WorthFM and Ellevest, robo-advisors that are geared specifically toward women, as reported earlier.

The market is there, according to a Vanguard survey that found that women make better savers, as reported previously, but lose out in the end because of the income gap.

But the key to bringing more women into the advice industry is to do so through other women, female advisors tell the FT. Margaret Jackson, a financial advisor and senior vice president at RBC Wealth Management, said there’s a need for more female-focused associations, such as her company’s Women’s Association of Financial Advisors, according to the publication.

Susan Kaplan, president of Kaplan Financial Services, adds that mentoring can prepare more female advisors as well. But Kaplan also said that women will need to get over the culture in the U.S. that convinces women while they’re still in school that they’re bad at math and finance, the FT writes.

Click here to read the Financial Times special report and see a full list of this year’s FT 400 advisors, including their locations and company affiliations.

The Financial Times also compiles an annual FT 300 list of top RIA firms.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the Financial Times article cited in this story, click here.