Best Financial Careers For Women

Women and men don't always have the same wants and needs when it comes to careers. Women in particular may seek scheduling flexibility that allows them to care for their children and spend time with their families, assurance that they'll be able to advance even in male-dominated workplaces; and the feeling that they're making a positive impact on people's lives. While you might think of finance as an industry with long hours, lots of testosterone and too much stress, many women have found it to be one that allows them to achieve success, satisfaction and work-life balance. Here are four finance careers that real women say allow them to achieve these goals.

Asset Manager
Melissa Joy, CFP, is the director of investments and a partner with the Southfield, Mich., Center for Financial Planning. Her firm manages more than $500 million in its discretionary investment program, and she develops and implements discretionary investment models for hundreds of clients. “As a partner, I also sit on the firm's operations committee and help to run the business,” she says.

Joy says asset management is a great career track for women, especially when they work with boutique, independent companies like she does, where there are fewer gender barriers than in traditional wirehouses. What’s more, while the asset management field is still male dominated, says Joy, “you can stand out as a woman, and if you can prove yourself, there are great opportunities for advancement.”

There are several reasons why Joy says asset management is a great career track for women:
  • Boutique wealth management firms can offer significant flexibility. The workplace culture can be more family friendly and your merit is not determined by exorbitant hours worked.
  • It's a great creative outlet, which many women may enjoy.
  • The need for asset managers to serve women is growing.
  • The work is truly rewarding. “You're helping people achieve their life goals. It doesn't get much better than that,” Joy says.
  • As a partner, Joy says she impacts the lives of the company’s clients and employees through her decisions.
Some women might find particular aspects of Joy’s job challenging. She says that working in a boutique wealth management firm has required her to wear many hats, but she looked at this situation as an opportunity to prove her value early in her career. “I really feel that the variety of projects and issues helped me in the long run even though it could have been intimidating,” she says.

On the downside, “Because wealth management practices are often small businesses, you may not have the same opportunities when it comes to employee benefits such as paid maternity leave or tuition reimbursement,” Joy says. “To me, the price for less of these types of benefits is paid back with a more open playing field and less of a glass ceiling.”

Investment Advisor Representative
Diane Zing is the vice president of investments in the Denver office of Trilogy Financial Services. She is a fully licensed Investment Advisor Representative, holding her Series 6, 7, 63 and 65 securities licenses, along with health, life and long-term care insurance licenses. Zing’s work focuses on comprehensive planning that involves investment management, protection planning and wealth-transfer strategies for individuals, families and small-to-medium sized companies.

For women seeking a career in the financial services industry, Zing recommends focusing not only on what skills they have, but also what kind of environment they want to be in. “Every firm within the industry has its own style; its own perception of integrity, client service and expertise,” she says. Women should consider what kind of work-life balance they need, then look for the type of position and the company that can meet those needs.

Zing sees advantages to being a woman in her field, particularly in the area of communicating with clients. She says a woman’s sensitivity and empathy can be more comfortable for many clients. The same traits that some see as an advantage, others might see as a disadvantage, however. Zing says some clients might see a woman advisor as possibly unreliable if they believe they rank below a woman’s other priorities, such as her home, spouse or partner and children. “They believe we are trying to manage a business and manage a household all at the same time. And while many of us do,” she says, "clients sometimes measure a woman’s success at balancing both aspects of her life without her opinion or feedback."

She says women can overcome these negative stereotypes by being professional to the utmost in how they dress, in their body language, in their speech and in their attentiveness to clients. “Casualness from a male counterpart sometimes gets considered as ‘confident’; casualness from a female in the same role sometimes gets labeled as ‘unprofessional’,” Zing says.