A recent partnership between the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) and Women in Insurance & Financial Services (WIFS) comes at a time when research finds women’s ascent within advisories has plateaued.
Women are fairly well represented within the lower ranks of advisor firms — at the support or service advisor level. However, the representation evaporates at the lead advisor and practicing partner levels, according to recent research by InvestmentNews.
For women with decades of experience in insurance and financial services such as Karen K. Roberts, former president of WIFS, and Susan L. Combs, the organization’s current president of WIFS, the difficulty of breaking into the senior ranks of advisories is nothing new.
Yet it signals an enduring frustration and lack of progress in a profession that many say seems tailor-made for women. The financial services business is seen as attractive to women because of the flexibility it brings and the inherent relationship-based nature of the work.
Indeed, in a report published last year, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards warned of a coming “feminine famine” among advisories as veterans prepare to retire and not enough new talent comes in to take their place.
Combs said the NAIFA-WIFS partnership would strengthen the commitment to advancing, supporting and promoting women in the industry.
NAIFA CEO Kevin Mayeux, said the partnership would help ensure NAIFA members have the knowledge to serve clients and would solidify NAIFA’s commitment to a diverse workforce. Mayeux made the statement during NAIFA’s annual conference in New Orleans earlier this month.
While the percentage of women at the support advisor level has grown from 44 percent in 2013 to 49 percent in 2015, it has shrunk at the lead advisor level from 36 percent in 2013 to 26 percent in 2015. This percentage has dropped even faster at the practicing partner level — from 25 percent in 2013 to 14 percent this year, according to data compiled by InvestmentNews.
NAIFA said about 14 percent of its 40,500 paid members are women.
NAIFA officials said this latest partnership with WIFS would strengthen access to professional education, political advocacy and engagement.
How to best engage membership was a key theme this year at NAIFA’s annual gathering. Leaders are working to boost participation within NAIFA across the segments its serves and to advocate more forcefully on behalf of state and local chapters.
NAIFA and WIFS collaborate on breakfasts and workshops; the production, promotion and distribution of NAIFA/WIFS webinars on industry practices; the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designation, and the Leadership in Life Institute (LILI).
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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