Shattering Stereotypes

For a long time, women brokers have been asking for more opportunities to network with other female reps. Securities firms are finally getting the message.Several of the major wirehouses--some in response to boom-boom room class-action suits and others to meet diversity-recruiting goals--have instituted mentoring and networking programs. Regional firms, too, are jumping on the bandwagon.Women reps

For a long time, women brokers have been asking for more opportunities to network with other female reps. Securities firms are finally getting the message.

Several of the major wirehouses--some in response to boom-boom room class-action suits and others to meet diversity-recruiting goals--have instituted mentoring and networking programs. Regional firms, too, are jumping on the bandwagon.

Women reps think its a superb idea. A Salomon Smith Barney rep on the West Coast loves the idea of meeting like-minded people and finding out whats working for them.

That doesnt mean that the challenges female brokers face are entirely different than the hurdles of their male colleagues. Building a book of business and serving clients is a tough task regardless of gender.

But there are some issues firm training sessions dont cover, like how it feels to lose a client because of a gender-based stereotype.

Ive had six instances involving clients or prospects where the outcomes been affected by the fact that I was a woman, says a Prudential Securities broker in the Northeast. Ive had clients ask if Im going to leave to have a baby. Ive had older male prospects assume I was the sales assistant.

Finding a mentor who can relate to these kinds of difficulties is critical. In addition to firm networking groups, other organizations, such as the Financial Womens Association and the National Association of Securities Professionals (NASP), provide a forum for women reps to meet other accomplished women.

Success in this business depends on believing you can do it, says Prudential Securities rep and manager Carl Davis, a board member of the NASP, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping minorities and women succeed. Historically, women have assumed they were not welcome here. Our challenge is to .... blow away this stereotype.

Meet four women in the financial services industry who are doing what they can to shatter stereotypes.

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