I have a distinct memory of my 7th Grade Social Studies teacher, Reva Hoyt, telling our class that there would never be, nor should there ever be, a female president. Now, this was the mid-1970’s so, clearly, times were different back then. But, I remember being taken aback by her statement even then. She reasoned, in part, that women didn’t have the emotional temperament to lead the country. While I disagree with her reasoning, Ms. Hoyt’s prediction has certainly held true for the last 40 years.
However, our President is Ramsey Bova, who owns the majority of our firm, Moneywatch Advisors. She has 20 years’ experience as a financial planner, learning the business from the ground up from her father, Bob, who started the firm in 1980. She also holds the highest designation in our profession, as a Certified Financial Planner. Unfortunately, only 23% of Certified Financial Planners are female.
While I am confident Ramsey will be very uncomfortable when she reads this post, I believe it is an important story to tell. To be quite candid, however, I am struggling with WHY this is so noteworthy. A 2014 study by the Certified Financial Planner board asked 657 men and 572 women to determine their preference for male or female advisors. Guess what? Very few people gave a hoot either way. Only 11% of both men and women indicated that the gender of their advisor was either “somewhat important” or “critical” in their choice of an advisor.
To back that up, clients who have chosen to work with Moneywatch in the year since I joined the firm want to know that the firm will help them plan for their futures, advise them on how much to save and how to save on taxes while doing it, manage their investments and, in general, provide the advice that is in THEIR best interests, not ours. Now, it isn’t uncommon for people to assume the person with the name Ramsey is male, but no one is surprised or disappointed when they learn she isn’t.
When I began writing this I toyed with a list of virtues or skills commonly attributed to women that might make them better financial planners. But, it didn’t take me very long to conclude a list like that would be as ridiculous as listing why women would NOT be good planners. I will say, however, that a study over the 2004-2008 time-period showed that companies with three or more female corporate directors significantly outperformed companies with no female directors. Just sayin’. More specific to the financial planning industry, the magazine “WealthAdvisor” wrote that only 10% of financial planning firms are women-owned but they make up 38% of the firms in the “Top Performer” category.
So, does it matter that Moneywatch is female-owned?
I don’t know, but here is my experience: Lisa and I were clients of Moneywatch for 25 years before I joined the firm. Ramsey and her dad helped us plan and invest for a day when we could be in the financial position for me to scratch that persistent entrepreneurial itch that I’d had for a long time. To have the financial freedom to take on a new challenge after age 50 was a dream of mine and they helped us make it possible. Now, I didn’t think that new challenge would be to work at Moneywatch but joining the firm has enabled me to work with Ramsey in her role as a leader, not just as a client.
After both experiences, I believe the reason Moneywatch’s ownership is noteworthy is because it is still so unusual. Why aren’t there more female financial planners; why are there so few women-owned firms? There are a variety of reasons, to be sure, but I believe the most telling takeaway from this discussion is it seems very few people care about their planners’ gender. All they care about is results.
I am interested in your thoughts. Please comment at the end of this Post or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.