Financial Services is a Great Career for Women
Working in financial services can be a great career for women; however, many are still hesitant to give it a try or simply aren’t aware of the career options available. I’m hoping we can change that.
My recent experience speaking at a banking seminar at a local university is a prime example. I had gone through a demonstration of what I do and how I help people with their retirement planning. Then, I asked the group how many were considering a career in financial services. Most of the people who raised their hands were men. Only a few women were interested. Before I closed my presentation, I showed a Penn Mutual video on the Five Reasons Why Women Should Consider Financial Services, then I asked the same question again. This time I had many more women’s hands go up and, at the end of the meeting, I had over 20 women come up to me and ask for a Women in Financial Services brochure.
Women do tend to be risk-averse when it comes to considering at a career in financial services. Studies have shown that women are less likely to speak up in a meeting or take on a job unless they are 100 percent certain of their competence. I would imagine their inner monologue goes something like this:
- “I’ve never done that before.”
- “I’m not great at math.”
- “I don’t know anything about investments.”
- “How do I know I would be good at that?”
Yet, financial services is a relationship business, not a numbers business. A person who can develop a strong relationship can always find the talent to answer clients’ needs. You don’t need to know investments yourself. You own and create the relationship first, then you find someone to help you with the investment part of your practice. I think the relationship-building aspect of our industry is what makes this a perfect career for women.
When working in financial services, help is always there for the asking. Whether that means technical help on a case or mentoring from another woman in the industry, there are always resources you can rely on. One resource I’ve grown to rely on is Women in Financial Services (WIFS), which offers a mentorship program.
I participate both as a mentor and a mentee, and I benefit from both of those relationships. The woman I am mentoring is a young mom with just one year in the business. Much of what she gets from me is encouragement and guidance on how to spend her time. My own mentor has undertaken some strategic exercises to help me be better in my job. The mentorship is very specific to your needs at the moment.
Of course, financial services isn’t right for every woman. You need an entrepreneurial spark that drives you to build something for yourself, but not by yourself alone. It also requires a strong enough self-confidence that you don’t fear picking up the phone and asking, “Hey, could I tell you what I do for a living?”
Success in financial services is more than just a matter of a willingness to work hard. At our agency, we conduct an online personality assessment that not only tells us whether someone is likely to succeed but also, more importantly, what part of the sales cycle someone is going to be best at so we can match them up with other people who have a complimentary personality. Anyone who already has experience in business development with a natural knack for fact finding is likely to do well; that’s half the battle right there.
My advice to someone just getting started in financial services
Build relationships. People have to know you and like you before they’ll meet with you. That’s why it is important to build relationships first.
Listen for people’s pain points. Once you do start a business conversation with someone, it’s critical to have a compelling process that solves people’s pain. When you do that, the people you know will introduce you to the people they know. Warm introductions beat a cold call any day.
Have a sense of mission. People need the protection and possibilities of the life insurance industry. The first time you deliver a death benefit to a family is when you really come in to this business. I happened to have three of them in my first year. It was really humbling for me, as I thought about what might have happened for that family if I hadn’t had that conversation.
And there are an awful lot of people who are frustrated and worried they don’t have enough money saved up for retirement. I feel like I’m on a mission to help people overcome this fear.
The timing is great for getting into this business. When I started, I never got into a conversation with someone without experiencing competition from another agent. Now, there’s no competition.
Marketing has never been more important. When I got started, it was easier to get in the door to introduce myself. People had a better understanding of the value of life insurance, and they would meet with you, decide if they liked you and then decide to do business with you. Nowadays, people have to like you before they’ll meet you, and they have no clue what life insurance can do for them. That makes marketing and social media a lot more important than it was back in the old days.
I hope I’ve been able to shed some light on the financial services industry and why it might just be the perfect career path for you.