By Caroline Brooks
What comes to mind when you think of a banker?
If you’re like most, what comes to mind is an older, wealthy-looking, white male.
There’s no reason to think otherwise: a Harvard Business Review analysis of 50 American financial services companies revealed that while women occupy 47 percent of the financial services industry, only 20 percent of executive committee roles and 22 percent of board positions are filled by women.
But if you attended the Women in Financial Services panel, hosted by the Broad College of Business’ Financial Markets Institute (FMI), what you saw was a stark contrast to the common assumption. The five women seated on the panel, all Broad graduates and members of the FMI Advisory Board, represented different aspects of “success” as a female working in the financial services industry.
“Financial companies are hungry for female talent at all levels. We’re looking to bridge the gap and strengthen the relationships between the FMI and employers around the world,” said Helen Dashney, director of the FMI.
Speaking on the panel were: Mary Maguire, Analyst for Wells Fargo Securities; Kathleen R. Roeser, Managing Director and Wealth Advisor for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management; Paula S. Rogers, a private investor; Chrissy L. Svejnar, Managing Director of Ares Management LLC.; and Kim-Marie VanCleef, Vice President of Quarton International.
Speaking to current students of the FMI and Broad College, the five women shared their stories about working in different capacities of financial services, how things have changed in the industry over the years, and what keeps them motivated to get to the top in a male-dominated industry. All have faced challenges throughout their careers, unanimously agreed that with dedication, tenacity, and not taking “no” for an answer, they made an impact on the state of female-disparities.
“I was the first female hired to the firm. My boss and I were bound and determined to break up the ‘old boys club’ and now I have a second-year female analyst supporting me – with plans to continue this trend,” said VanCleef of Quarton International.
Not only are there increasing opportunities for women to get in the financial industry door, but also those for accelerating up the corporate ladder. “At first you’re drinking from the fire hose and involved in every aspect of your transactions. But one out of 20 financial advisors are under the age of 50. There’s a big space to be filled, and younger advisors, brokers, and analysts have a huge opportunity to move upward as this current generation retires,” said Morgan Stanley’s Roeser. “All of the challenges you face in your career mean that you learn, grow, move on, and get better
As the “old boys club” school of thought moves out, and a driven generation of female talent moves in, the industry will inevitably shift, ultimately reshaping the banker bias.