A Few Simple Steps: Be humble, ask questions, learn about the people around you. That's advice on how men can empower women in financial services from Dennis Nally, chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers (an official partner of the UN HeForShe campaign). For those who think we've levelled the playing field, this stat from Nally is one to bear in mind: PwC research shows 71% of female millennials don't feel opportunities are equal for men and women in the workplace. It's important to be aware of this perspective, because it's so easy to have "blind spots" about how inclusive the world is when you are part of the majority, Nally says. (On a related note … Check out this insightful essay by a female Yale grad about the recent controversy there. Her realization about the myopia of being in the majority – and what constitutes inclusiveness – is expressed particularly well.)
Financial Planning Shouldn't Be 'By Men For Men': With $22 trillion dollars of assets expected to shift to women over the next decade, Kathy Murphy, Fidelity's president of Personal Investing, sees a significant opportunity for advisers who help women gain the confidence they need to tackle financial planning. "I think financial services historically has been an industry developed by men for men," Murphy says. As a result, women have been underserved, "and it's wrong." One way the industry could be more welcoming to women is with websites that replace intimidating jargon with more accessible language. "Women like to be educated before they engage. They like to ground themselves in the facts," Murphy says. "Men, on the other hand, will dive in and learn as they go along." You don't have to worry about alienating men either. "Research shows, in general, if you design things like a website for a woman, you won't turn off men. If you design it for a man, you will turn off women," she says. (Murphy has been named as one of our Most Powerful Women in Finance several times.)
Is 'For Women, From Women' Better?: Online financial planning services for women seem to be in vogue lately. Two such robo-advisers debut next year. WorthFM is the brainchild of DailyWorth founder Amanda Steinberg and Source Financial Advisors CEO Michelle Smith, while Ellevest is being launched by former Bank of America and Citigroup executive Sallie Krawcheck. Steinberg claims the gendered focus isn't driven by a need for extra help; she created WorthFM in response to conversations she had with her newsletter subscribers in which they complained about not liking the money-management options out there now. There are lots of good details in this article about WorthFM's approach.
Regulators Represent (Or Maybe Not): Financial regulatory agencies are more diverse at the top than the companies they oversee, according to a report from Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee. The report analyzes recruitment and promotion policies at seven federal agencies – including the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Securities and Exchange Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. On the plus side: Five years after Dodd-Frank required the agencies to create internal diversity offices, they have more women in senior positions than the private financial services sector. On the minus side: Female representation in the ranks overall is significantly lower than it is across the financial services industry (women make up less than half the total workforce at each agency, whereas they are 59% of the industry's total employees). The FDIC has the lowest percentage of women (43%); the CFPB has the highest (48%). In the American Banker's coverage of this committee report, the focus is on the racial disparities in performance reviews at the regulatory agencies.
Competitive Spirit: University of Chicago researchers suggest the gender pay gap exists because women are less competitive than men. But Bloomberg is skeptical, because its data shows that even women who vie for the highest-paid positions end up with smaller paychecks than their male counterparts. In a Bloomberg survey of business school grads, 12,000 MBAs entered the workforce with little difference in pay between genders, but eight years after graduation, women took home a median of $35,000 less. The gender pay gap existed regardless of type of job. Women in finance earned $53,200 less than men; women in marketing at banks, $7,000 less than men; women in investment banking, $115,000 less than men.
Zions Bancorp. in Salt Lake City has promoted Jennifer Smith to chief information officer. She will also serve on the company's executive management committee. Smith has been the director of enterprise operations at Zions since 2011.
When Louise Kelly, thepresident and chief executive of EnerBank USA in Salt Lake City, retires next month, she will be succeeded by Charlie Knadler. Kelly, who is one of our 25 Most Powerful Women in Finance, will remain on the board of directors at the industrial loan company following her retirement. Knadler is currently EnerBank's chief financial officer.
Meta Financial Group in Sioux Falls, S.D., has promoted Cindy Smith to the newly created position of head of technology and operations. She joined the company in June as head of strategic initiatives.
In Case You Missed It
The Value of Innovation: Bank of New York Mellon has a strategy to make innovation part of its everyday culture, and Karen Peetz, the company's president, says the board of directors is taking a long-term view with regard to expecting results. But even so, some tangible results are required to justify continuing the investment, and the board reviews those results every year to decide whether the strategy is worthwhile. "Every year, we say, 'yes, it is,'" Peetz says. "I've just been through the budget and we absolutely agreed to continue."
Wooing Women: Maureen O'Donnell is the branch manager at the Wells Fargo Advisors' Park Avenue location in New York and is trying to recruit her third female adviser (for a team that would then have 21 advisers overall). It isn't her first attempt to attract women to a male-dominated work environment, and in the past she's found it takes more effort and more time to get women to switch to a new firm. "In my experience with women, it's a longer courting process than with men," O'Donnell says. "We get to know their families, where their kids go to elementary schools, and all that kind of stuff." (As regular readers of this newsletter know, Wells is a champion of gender diversity – or at least better than many of its competitors.)
No Crown for You: The Hollywood Reporter is ending the famed Power 100 ranking of women in the entertainment industry. In a reflective essay, Janice Min, its president and chief creative officer, says the ranking has become an accidental "beauty pageant of brains where only one woman gets crowned." Sister publication Billboard is also dropping the Power 50 ranking of women in music. Though the rankings are meant to highlight successful women, Min says she has had "a nagging sense" that the intended goal is getting lost somehow. Now, she's challenging the women to use their competitive spirit to work together to make strides instead of pitting themselves against each other. (Hmmm… another skeptic of the research that women lack competitiveness?)
Not That Kind of Bond Girl: For the last 20 years, Barbara Broccoli has been the woman behind James Bond – ever since her father, Albert Broccoli, producer of the early Bond films, handed the reins to her and her half-brother. As the woman growing one of the most aspirational male brands in the world, she weighs in on feminism in a New York Times interview. "I am absolutely a feminist," she says. "If you think about the women in the recent films, they're far more interesting and complex than they once were. Bond has changed, too, in how he deals with women."