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5 Ways to Draw More Women Into the Financial Services Industry The earlier we encourage young women, the more opportunity there is to attract future talent.

By Bellaria Jimenez Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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As a Latina woman, I am an anomaly in the field of financial services, an industry where the vast majority of advisors have traditionally been white males. Yet financial services, in particular the financial planning and advisory field, can benefit from diversity of thought. Female financial advisors are in high demand as we represent a mere 18 percent of the field force. And there is also a high demand to attract new talent for the future since the average age of financial advisors today is 51. But in getting it right, this talent needs to be more representative of the diverse clientele that our industry serves. With women outpacing men in college graduation rates and 51 percent of the population being women, employers see a big pool of talent in a field that can benefit from diversity.

Unfortunately, the key to why women don't flock to this industry is no doubt a more complex matter. It could be that women have been turned off by antiquated and out of touch recruiting practices that don't emphasize the flexibility and support that the right firm can offer. Perhaps women don't meet the right people during the interview process to provide them the security that they seek in knowing that they will benefit from mentorship and support to grow a successful practice. There is always the question of whether the lack of role models has a negative influence in attracting talent.

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Gone is the era of cold calling for dollars or chasing transactions to make a living. Today's female advisor is consultative, listens to the client's financial needs and helps the client navigate through the complex choices by educating and hand-holding through the process. In addition, women possess the soft skills needed to service clients and guide them in their financial journey.

Moreover, women are in high demand. I feel through advocacy and education we can impact the future of our industry for the next generation of women that can carry the torch forward. I have become an advocate for educating women in considering financial planning as a career path. I am inspired that change is needed and that we are at a tipping point for this change. I have decided that I can make a difference one person at a time. Here are five compelling reasons for women to consider this career.

1. Entrepreneurship.

Women can run and build their own business. Having the flexibility to meet the clients they seek to help and focus on target markets.

2. Professional development.

Women can continue to learn and expand their knowledge through additional licenses, training, designations, coaching and mentoring. Focusing women on constantly reinventing themselves to keep pace with ever changing technology and competition.

3. Community involvement.

Women in our field give back to the communities they serve, they have the flexibility to be philanthropic and make a difference.

4. Teaming.

Women can join advisor teams and build their practice through this approach that affords them mentoring and the ability to tap into the team's intellectual capital.

5. Industry involvement.

Financial services offers women an array of associations such as "Women in Financial Services" that focuses on promoting, advancing and developing women.

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I recently celebrated 20 years in this great career that has afforded me such incredible opportunities, career growth and exposure to coaches and mentors. Not only have I survived the industry statistics for retention but I went on to join the even fewer women in a leadership role. As I reflected on my personal journey, I realized the impact that role models had on me. Because of this, I have been mentoring and developing female advisors for many years but this only supports one side of the equation; retention. It didn't address the need to attract more talented women. I decided to approach the issue differently and pay it forward by investing time introducing female college students to women role models that have experienced great success. Also, inspire and motivate them to learn and consider the financial adviser career.

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I speak at college campuses to young women studying business and finance majors to provide them an insight to a financial adviser career. My team of women advisers volunteer their time to share their stories and mentor young women. We have found that many women didn't know enough about our career to even consider the option and are excited at the potential to be part of a business that offers flexibility, unlimited income and a business model that can support teaming and work life balance. Although students are not ready to seek employment right away, I believe that the earlier we plant the seed with young women, the more opportunity we have to attract future talent to our industry.

Bellaria Jimenez

Managing partner at MassMutual Tristate

With 20 years of experience in financial planning, Bellaria now leads a team of 35 managers and 170 sales representatives. Since 1995, Bellaria has been working with the Latino community providing education about the importance of financial planning. Bellaria joined MassMutual with a focus on recruiting, training, and developing women.

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