Wealth is Women’s Work: An Overdue Book

By Jenny Martella

Peggy Ruhlin has written the book many in the field of financial advice have long been waiting for. Wealth is Women’s Work: How Women Can Make a Long-Term Impact with a Career in Wealth Management presents the problem well: Women now control the majority of American household wealth but represent only 15% to 20% of all financial advisors. This is a significant issue because, as Ruhlin points out, women clients often prefer to work with a female advisor. She also makes the case that female advisors often bring unique and important traits very much needed in our field, such as empathy and above-average listening skills.

As former CEO of Fee-Only firm CI Budros Ruhlin Roe (now Corient), Ruhlin built a great career, and she shares her experiences as well as knowledge gained from her years connecting with other women advisors through NAPFA and other organizations.

In her book, Ruhlin works to change the narrative about our profession for women. She makes the case around what women in the field already know: This job is one where women can excel and feel incredibly fulfilled. Ruhlin says that it’s not math that is needed but rather the ability to connect emotionally and build trust. It’s not just about the desire to work with wealthy people but also the desire to help mostly ordinary people reach their life goals. These are the areas many women are good at and where they love to be present.

In my decade working in this field, I have seen the need Ruhlin points out first-hand. Female clients have told me that when they looked for an advisor, they had trouble finding a woman to work with and often ended up feeling as though they were not seen or heard in meetings. In the book, Ruhlin identifies this as being treated like the “invisible woman,” which can happen especially when women are accompanied by a man when meeting with an advisor. In my experience, some of the women I met wanted and needed a woman to talk to about the shame they felt from not knowing much about investing. Others wanted a woman to share their tears over losing their spouse. All of them wanted to feel understood. Many thoughtful men whispered to me over the years that they were looking for a female advisor with whom their wife could feel included and comfortable, knowing that their wife would likely outlive them.

I, along with many, have worked hard to bring more women into the field via mentorship and other strategies. Despite that effort, we have not moved the needle much, and Ruhlin points out that today females still represent just 23% of all Certified Financial Planner™ professionals. This is pretty much the same number as when I started.

Ruhlin’s book makes a great case for why we need more women in the field, why they will enjoy the profession, how they will do great work, and how they will personally succeed. She effectively dispels the false narratives that may be keeping women away. These narratives include “It’s Boring,” “CFPs Only Work With Rich People,” and “I Don’t Have the Right Skills,” which are titles of chapters in Ruhlin’s book. I look forward to passing this book out to women considering entering financial services and discussing my experiences with them.

Thank you, Peggy Ruhlin, for this timely and much-needed read!

Wealth is Women’s Work is published by Advantage Books at a list price of $24.99. It is also available as an e-book.

Jenny Martella is a principal and wealth manager at Modera Wealth Management. She has been practicing Fee-Only financial planning for more than 10 years and has worked in financial services industry for nearly 30 years.

image credit: Lukichev