Diversity is needed in all professions. It makes us stronger and better. It’s the tide that will raise all ships.
A lot of work is required in order to improve diversity and inclusion within financial services, but many great individuals and organizations are committed to putting in the effort and raising the bar. Through my work at The American College of Financial Services and now at Carson Group, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many of these great people and initiatives.
Recently, O’Neal announced the creation of the Female Advisor Network, a much-needed new initiative she founded to support women in the financial planning profession. I wanted to talk with O’Neal and learn about her experience in the industry and why this initiative is so crucial, especially now.
To find more information about the Female Advisor Network you can click here.
Q&A with Nina O’Neal
Jamie Hopkins: Can you just tell me a bit about how you got into financial planning and being an advisor? I feel like it is always important to know where we came from and how we got into this profession.
Nina O’Neal: I began my career at an institutional investment manager in New York City in the early 2000s. In 2006, I wanted to move back home to North Carolina to be closer to family. So, I took an opportunity with a wirehouse training program for FAs. In 2009, I joined my now business partner to co-own our current firm, Archer Investment Management. And 2009 was a tough time for investors, I wanted to focus on helping clients as much as possible. I realized how important it was to take the emotions out of investing and focus on the client.
JH: What’s the biggest hurdle for female advisors today in the industry?
NO: I believe women have to juggle many roles and it can be difficult to do that and work in such a demanding job and industry. I believe we also have to work harder to gain credibility with both our peers and clients.
JH: What’s the biggest hurdle for women to join the industry?
NO: There are not a lot of opportunities for new advisors to join the industry in general, but I think females find it even harder to join. The hurdle is really the lack of opportunity and that many females get put into administrative roles and then are not able to advance their career.
JH: Can you give me an idea of the mission of the Female Advisor Network?
NO: The mission is to provide a community of support, mentorship, collaboration and education that is for female advisors by female advisors.
JH: Why did you set out to create the Female Advisor Network?
NO: Over the years I have had many conversations with female advisors all over the country. I continued to hear similar experiences that we were all having or had separately. I consistently heard the desire for more support, mentorship and community.
I also felt a lack of and wanted a community of women who knew the hurdles we face as female advisors. The industry has conferences and broker/dealer initiatives for diversity, which have been valuable to all of us who have participated.
In the beginning, I decided to host a retreat for female advisors to attend, but I wanted the experience to continue beyond the retreat. I believed there could be a benefit as well for female advisors to have an association that could provide a community developed by a female advisor who has walked the walk. So, I decided to develop one.
JH: What does this network look like for partners today?
NO: We do not have any formal partnership arrangements at this time for the network itself. However, the network has a “Partner Marketplace,” which provides discounted and promotional pricing for members from financial services providers. The current partners are Riskalyze, AdvicePay, Orion, Twenty Over Ten, Redtail, Yourefolio, Carson Group, Rightsize Solutions. And we are currently onboarding and in discussion with several more.
JH: Have you been surprised in a positive and or negative way by the rollout?
NO: POSITIVE! The response has been huge from the industry and the kind messages of gratitude that I have received from women in the industry and from members has been very validating and overwhelming.
JH: If this network is successful in five years, what will it look like?
NO: In five years I hope the program has networking events that we refer to as “Community Connections” in many cities across the country, has thriving mentorship and accountability partnership programs that are helping many women, has made an impact in female advisor recruitment and retention, has a significant student membership, hosts multiple retreats during the year and more.
JH: How can people get involved with the Female Advisor Network if they are interested?
NO: The first step is to go to the website and join as a member. From there, they can get involved by taking advantage of the partner promotions in the partner marketplace, apply to be a local ambassador and begin coordinating local events for female advisors, attend industry network events and participate in the mentorship or accountability partner programs. We have many new things in development right now as well, so there will be even more engagement opportunities to come.
Jamie Hopkins, Esq., is the Director of Retirement Research at Carson Wealth and a former professor of Taxation at The American College, where he helped co-create the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) education program. Jamie strives to increase the retirement income security of Americans by delivering practical and trusted retirement research and education. His most recent book, "Rewirement: Rewiring The Way You Think About Retirement," details the behavioral finance issues that hold people back from a more financially secure retirement. He has been selected by InvestmentNews as one of the top 40 financial service professionals under the age of 40 and was also selected by The American Bar Association as one of the top 40 Young Attorneys in the country. In 2017, Trusts & Estates Journal awarded Professor Hopkins the Distinguished Author Award for his article on the Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule. He holds his LLM in Taxation from Temple University School of Law and his J.D. from Villanova University School of Law.