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Why Financial Services is a Great Career for Women

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Written by: Penn Mutual | Susan Cooper 

I’ve been involved in the financial services industry for 30 years. It’s been a great career for me, and I think it can be a great career choice for women in general. Yet many women are still overlooking the career possibilities in this industry. I’m not exactly sure why, but I suspect it may be because many just aren’t aware of all the benefits.

Here are five great reasons why women should consider a career in financial services:

1. WOMEN EXCEL AT BUILDING AND NURTURING LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS

This is a business built on relationships. Women tend to be very strong communicators, and they excel at building and nurturing long-term relationships, one of the most important skill sets a financial advisor can have. Women are accustomed to giving and getting referrals. We do that with our friends, our family, and our business colleagues.

We also naturally work in a team environment. Clients today like knowing that they have a long-term relationship with someone who is backed by a whole team of people who can help them. The days of working in a silo are long gone.

2. EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK

There’s a lot of controversy about equal pay for equal work. Generally, women earn only 77 percent of what men earn for the same work.

However, the financial services industry does not distinguish gender when you’re talking about pay-for-performance. In our industry, you get compensated based on the success you have in building client relationships and how hard you work, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman. Even today, where the headlines read that women still are not receiving equal pay, that problem doesn’t exist for women who become advisors in the life insurance industry. Because the commissions are regulated, it wouldn’t be possible for an insurance firm to pay a man more than a woman.

3. WORK/LIFE BALANCE

Personally, one of the things that really attracted me to the business was the ability to have it all-to have a family and still be able to have a very successful career. I don’t think many other professions offer that. This was a critical factor for me, and it’s an element that I think would attract a lot more women if they were aware of it.

Although you have to work very hard early on to build your practice, just as you would if you were an attorney or a doctor, you have a lot of autonomy and independence in determining your work/life balance because you can set appointments with clients based on your schedule. You can work certain days of the week or certain times of the day and still be able to go to your children’s events or to check in on an elderly parent.

If someone asked me whether this is something you can do part-time, my response would be that this is a results-driven business. If you can achieve the performance and the results, no one worries about the time you put in doing it. When my kids were younger, I could get just as much work done by working three days a week, because I was totally focused on doing only what I needed to do so I could get home to my kids.

Eileen McDonnell, Penn Mutual’s CEO, recently spoke about whether this can be a part-time job. She said that it really doesn’t matter how many hours you put in. What matters is the outcome of your work, and I’m a big believer in that. In our agency, for example, if people need to spend a certain amount of time making appointments to see new clients, it doesn’t matter to us whether they’re making those calls from home or from the office. As long as the outcome and the productivity are there, it isn’t relevant to us whether someone is sitting in their cubicle or in their home office while making those calls.

4. A POSITIVE IMPACT ON THE LIVES OF OTHERS

It’s important to have a passion for your work, to have a sense of mission. I’m always amazed at the impact that our agency has on the lives of our clients. We are helping them educate their kids for college, retire successfully, and leave a legacy while also protecting them from the unforeseen things that happen. We’re the only ones who are really delivering the check when someone becomes disabled or passes on, enabling a family or a business to pick up and carry on towards the goals and dreams that a person may have had for the people they loved. There’s really no other business that compares to that, except perhaps medicine.

5. THE NEED HAS NEVER BEEN GREATER

The industry needs to attract new people. The average insurance agent is a 57-year-old white male. There a number of problems with that. First, the U.S. workforce as a whole is much younger and more diverse, and the industry needs to keep pace in order to serve its clients better. For example, some older men overlook the financial contributions that women make in the modern household today, which has resulted in an insurance gap between men and women.

The women that I know in the business don’t shy away from the impact a woman has, and also the need she has for insurance. Whether a woman is working at a particular job or profession, or if she is a stay-at-home mom, there’s a huge value to what she does that would need to be replaced if something happened to her.

Second, a lot of current financial advisors will soon begin retiring and will need to be replaced. It’s estimated that the industry will need 237,000 advisors over the next decade simply to replace the ones who will be retiring. This will naturally create more diversity in the industry, and better opportunities than ever for women.

For all these reasons, becoming a financial advisor in the financial services industry can be a great career for women of all ages and backgrounds. The need has never been greater, and women excel at doing this sort of relationship-based, team-oriented work. The work also enables women to have tremendous control of their work/life balance, and they get compensated equally based on their performance. Finally, it allows women to make a positive impact on the lives of others, while enjoying a passion for what they do.

If you want to learn more about a career in financial services, visit www.pennmutual.com.

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