“Financial Planning” Magazine Features WIFE.org Women’s Choice Award for Financial Advisors

New Program to ID Advisors Focused on Women

Financial PlanningA new award is seeking to establish 17 criteria that planners can use to analyze their practices to gauge how well they serve women.

“This award is pre-vetting advisors using these different criteria in order to give women consumers who need financial advisors a place to start looking for them,” says Ginita Wall, a longtime planner in San Diego who is a cofounder of Women’s Institute for Financial Education, one two organizations behind the initiative. “The other part of it, of course, is putting advisors together with the women who actually need them and want to work with them.”

The San Diego-based nonprofit Women’s Institute and WomenCertified, which endorses products and services for women consumers, intend to honor about 100 planners – men and women – later this year with the first-annual Women’s Choice Award Financial Programs. The two organizations claim the award will be the first and only nationwide recognition mechanism for advisors deemed well-qualified to serve women. Planners of all stripes will be considered, including CFPs, RIAs and wirehouse advisors. Those who primarily serve insurance products will not quality, according to Wall, a cofounder of the Women’s Institute.

Wall has offered a free divorce seminar to women and men in the San Diego area for 25 years and devoted much of her career to pro bono counseling of women in financial crisis. More than 70% of women want to work with a financial advisor and don’t know how to get started, she says.

“They are so afraid of encountering another Bernie Madoff,” she says, “that they are sitting there paralyzed and not knowing what to do.”

The Institute – which goes by the acronym WIFE – has retained the well-regarded consulting firm Advisor Impact to design the 17 criteria and the survey. Advisor Impact also will ensure that all the recipients are planners in good standing both with their clients and with regulatory bodies, Wall says.

The criteria (see below) are broken into “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” according to Wall.

Hopefully the award will add to the prestige of those planners who choose to optimize their practices to serve women, Wall says.
“It is not a credential,” she adds. “God knows there’s enough credentials out there to choke a horse.”

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