The International Association of Registered Financial Consultants (IARFC®) addresses the role of women in financial services in their current issue of the Register, a national publication of industry news. From the newly graduated, the seasoned professionals, the international members, to those within the Association, women give their perspectives of the financial services industry and how it, and the IARFC, has evolved over the years.
The narratives start with the reflections of a personal journey in “Navigating the Evolving Gender Bias” according to Hannah Swigert, RFC®. Starting her career over 20 years ago, Hannah was teaching professionals who were mostly male financial planners in the 50s and 60s – so she faced the age/gender bias. She also went up against long standing relationships. Hannah relates that the hardest lessons she learned in those early years was recognizing when to move on which she did effectively.
“In the more recent years, I’ve seen successful women celebrate being financial consultants AND mothers, wives, widows, and divorcees,” notices Hannah. “I realized this makes them uniquely qualified to give advice about those same life experiences, because that’s what our client’s need – someone who has been there.”
Another seasoned professional contributing to this edition is Jamie Bosse, RFC®, a financial consultant in Overland Parks, KS. In the Register, as a mother of four children, she contributes an article entitled “When to Start Talking to Kids About Money – It’s Sooner Than You Think”. She is a prior winner of the IARFC National Financial Plan Competition and works with clients to help them “Master What’s Next” by clarifying their goals.
It certainly bears notice that the last three winners of the Competition have been females. Hannah feels this underlines the fact that women are detail oriented and poised to achieve excellence in the financial planning area. This year’s winner Rebecca Boyle of the University of North Texas, comes from a family who inscribed responsible financial principles growing up. She feels now is the perfect opportunity for women to enter into financial services – that is it the right time. Life after graduation finds National Financial Plan Competition winner in a more structured job with a St. Louis firm as a para planner.
“It seems no big deal to me for women to become the director of planning or have a higher position in the firm,” confirms Rebecca. “That’s the emerging norm.”
As the IARFC is an international Association, the Register interviews Dr. Theresa So, RFC® – IARFC Chairman, Hong Kong and Macau and Hanying (JJ) Liang, RFC® – Special Assistant to the Chairman with IMM in Greater China. Dr. So relates that in the U.S., the market is more mature where a client’s engagement with a financial consultant is based on the professionalism of the latter. Personal relationships count for less. In China, the Financial Services market is still emerging. In choosing a financial consultant, a client often prioritizes personal connection over other considerations. In both countries, however, there will be an enhanced population of women entering into financial services.
Hanying joins her father IMM founder Mr. Liang in raising the standard of Worldwide Chinese Life Insurance Professionals’ social status and image. She is in charge of promoting RFC education programs with IMM in Greater China. She points to a survey conducted by the Insurance Information Research and Development Center, (established by IMM in 2002), that 71% of life agents are women in China. In the last 20 years of life insurance development in China, they play important roles – are more compassionate, warm, and caring which are good traits for marketing and communication in a people service oriented industry, making it easier to open up a primitive market. She believes these characteristics apply to American woman too.
Within the Association, Michelle Blair, RFC® is a Board of Trustees member as well as the Secretary of the Financial Planning Association, Long Island Chapter. She is a regular contributor to the Register and has served on many major Board and Committee projects throughout her time with the IARFC. Michelle excels at sorting out complicated organizational issues and offering efficient, productive solutions.
The IARFC COO, Charlotte Isbell gives an insider’s perspective of the Association by weighing in on the changes that the IARFC has made in the past three years – accreditation being one of the most challenging. She merits the change in environment (purchasing and moving into a new building) and most importantly the leadership for the positive path on which she views the Association is moving.
“However you see us evolving,” explains Charlotte, “Know that the Team and I are working to better the Association. I look ahead and think that the future is promising.”
The IARFC encourages more women to step up to leadership roles.
“I have a request for all our RFC and MRFC female members,” challenges IARFC Chair and CEO, H. Stephen Bailey, MRFC®. “Answer the call for a Board position when nominations are requested. I would like to see more women serve on the Board of Trustees and the U.S. Chapter Board.”
For more information on the IARFC and to read the entire articles about women progressing in the industry and in the Association visit www.iarfc.org.