“We’ve done a lot of conferences, and a lot of people say that they want women advisors at the firm,” Halloran says. “The college program is a piece of the puzzle. If we introduce and invest in young people and bring them into the Voya culture, we give them a safety net for success.”

It’s an issue relevant to all advisors: According to a 2015 Prudential Financial survey, one in four households is headed solely by a woman, and more than 95% of women say they are involved in their household’s financial decisions. But just 20% of women thought they were receiving enough information to make sound financial decisions.

As more women make the planning decisions for their households, the male-dominated financial services fields may not be prepared to serve them. Women also face planning for a longer life span in retirement with what still typically amounts to less income. In married couples, women on average outlive their partners, so they also have to plan to inherit their spouses’ assets and unwind any retirement or legacy plans while dealing with funerary expenses.

Angela Kahrmann, Voya’s chief operating officer and the head of the Women Advisors Network, says female advisors also bring perspective that benefits clients of both sexes.

“Woman advisors are more collaborative and tend to look at advising in terms of finding solutions instead of selling the product,” Kahrmann says. “Women tend to take a different approach to financial planning and services.”

But in the past, female clients have also expressed frustration with the inaccessibility of financial services. In part, that’s a cultural problem, Glass says.
Those cultural obstacles could prevent young women like Lenzer from pursuing careers in financial services, despite their interest.

Lenzer says the typical financial advisors are older males. “For me to come in to the field at a young age, it’s definitely a roadblock, but it’s definitely one that can be overcome. Sitting in with Michelle and her clients, I find that the wife is usually the one who pays the bills and the husband is the one who does the investing. That’s one roadblock that I think definitely is still there for women.”

For independent advisors with growing businesses, internships can offer an infusion of young talent and energy in the office, and they also provide a foundation for succession planning.

“It’s amazing to me, every time you open an industry publication there’s an article on succession planning,” Glass says. “As an advisor, building my book of business and grooming the next generation to succeed me is very important, and Voya recognizes that.”

Halloran took the succession argument one step further, saying interns were important for the industry’s future. “When you bring an intern in, you have a chance to meet them face to face and work with them from the beginning,” he says. “You’ll know if this is someone you want to have on board.”


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