Increasingly, women are making their mark on the financial services industry as clients and advisors. They are shifting the focus from transactions, sales, and performance to life plans, education, and relationship building. Moira Klein-Swormink, Principal, Canada Wealth Management Solutions, at Edward Jones, sees this evolution first-hand. She notes that firms are adapting to better serve the needs of women investors and advisors.
“Women are going to control about $3.8 trillion, or one-third of the financial assets in Canada by 2028. We know this is a huge opportunity for us. How do we make sure women clients feel comfortable with the services we offer?” says Klein-Swormink. “And, can we build a resilient workforce that gives advisors the opportunity to challenge norms and provide exceptional service to those women clients?”
She describes the pandemic as a turning point in the industry, as well as in society at large. The overnight switch to working from home was difficult, especially for women, but it also sped up positive change.
According to Statistics Canada¹, over half (52%) of women are caregivers to children and care-dependent adults compared to 42% of men, with women spending an average of 10 hours weekly caring for care-dependent adults compared to 6 hours for men. For many women, working at the kitchen table while managing virtual school recesses and lunchtimes, alongside all the usual caregiving duties, provided new perspective on priorities.
“The pandemic brought us closer as families and helped us think more clearly about what we actually value, and then how do I want to align my life such that I can live a high quality of life and be my best self in all aspects of my life,” Klein-Swormink says. “What we’re seeing is this opportunity to let go of the guilt and design our own work paths that make sense for our life plans, our clients, our communities, and our families—and there’s just so much power in that.”
Edward Jones is providing more flexibility and autonomy for financial advisors, and advisors have passed that along to clients who have come to appreciate increased flexibility and autonomy, too. Management has also been responsive to the needs of different generations, listening with an open mind, challenging current practices, and ensuring there’s diversity around decision-making tables.
Klein-Swormink adds that it has been important to foster a sense of community within the firm. Mentorship, sponsorship, and coaching have become a major focus. In addition, two business resource groups at Edward Jones help to create a supportive environment for women. One is dedicated to building connections and champions across the organization for women who are adjusting to life as business owners. Another focuses on sharing experiences and resources related to caregiving. Both groups run monthly meetings, with more frequent small gatherings, and they often bring in outside experts to share their insights.
“In today’s world, it’s important to recognize that people come to work as whole individuals, bringing their experiences and passions with them. To cultivate a thriving workplace, we need to create intentional opportunities for connection through a variety of inclusive channels. People are unique, so our approach to developing a thriving workplace must also be unique. It’s not a one size fits all approach—there is something here for everyone at Edward Jones,” explains Klein-Swormink.
Edward Jones also invests heavily in advisor growth and development—something Klein-Swormink says is highly valued by the women at her firm. Advisors can take a wide range of training programs that enhance their capabilities and contributions to the firm. For example, an advisor with clients working in agriculture may want to take a course, with tuition reimbursed, that provides a window into how that industry works. All the usual financial support toward certifications and designations are offered as well.
Klein-Swormink says firms like hers are adapting because it makes human sense and business sense—and that’s a powerful combination.
“When you walk into a workplace and you feel like you belong, you’re in your best mindset. There’s nothing getting in the way of your showing up 100% focused on the client in front of you,” she explains. “When we can set up our financial advisors to do what they do best—which is build those deep, trusted relationships and provide that comprehensive planning and advice—then it’s win-win all around.”