My continuing search for answers to readers' questions has given me the opportunity to talk to many different financial advisers over the years.
All of them do an excellent job providing good, general advice based on minimal information.
And most of them are men.
That's not because I haven't tried to find female advisers. It's just that there aren't as many women in the field.
Utah-based Heritage Financial Group hopes to help change that.
Last week, the firm hosted a series of meetings for women who want to learn more about a career that offers earnings potential, flexibility and the chance to make a positive impact on people's lives.
And as much as women can benefit from such a career, so can the firms that employ them, according to Daniel Harding, managing partner of Heritage Financial in Salt Lake City.
Daniel says Heritage Financial, which also has offices in Ogden and Orem, started focusing on recruiting women to be advisers through its affiliation with Minnesota-based Securian Financial Group and its WISE (Women's Interactive Sales Exchange) Program. Daniel says he and his partner, Calvin Welling, are impressed with the results.
"We look at the demographics, ... and we see the opportunities and potential for a woman in our industry are incredible," Daniel says. "We realize that women are shortchanged numerically."
Meaning, he says, the number of women serving as financial advisers does not match up with the number who own businesses and control corporate purse strings.
"We want to do something about that, and the reality is, women generally are better communicators with other women, and typically are a little more successful as it relates to the financial advisory business," Daniel says.
Sherri DuMond, national recruiting vice president for Securian, says WISE is based on recognition of those facts. "What WISE is all about is, how do we support the female advisers that we currently have in our firms, and then how do we also make the career attractive so we can get more females in the career?"
Women in the Securian network use WISE to communicate with other female advisers nationwide, Sherri says.
"The women absolutely love it," she says. "And the reason they love it is that the functions we do through WISE are very female-focused, whereas in the industry in general, many of the activities ... tend to be more male-focused."
Sherri says women are attracted to financial advising because they like the positive impact they can have on clients' lives.
"Women like to make a difference. ... As you work with your clients, you're working side-by-side with them, helping them accomplish their goals and objectives," she says.
"Our women really enjoy that. It's a feeling of satisfaction. It's a feeling of making a difference with their clients, as well as in their communities."
Still, those kinds of opportunities can be found in many careers, Sherri says. What makes financial advising unique is its flexibility and lack of a "glass ceiling" on income.
"It depends on how many clients you want to take on and how hard you want to work," she says. "You don't have to play the corporate games that many women encounter when they go into the corporate world. ... And you have flexibility. You may decide that every Wednesday afternoon, you don't want to be working. Maybe you want to be volunteering time at your church or your school. You have the flexibility to do that."
That's why she travels the nation, spreading the word to women who never considered financial advising as a career option.
"My dream at the end of the day is, when I look at the numbers of financial advisers, I want to see 50 percent women," Sherri says.
Daniel says Heritage Financial is trying to do its part. The company has hired five female advisers in the last year, meaning seven of its approximately 40 advisers are women.
"Our goal is to do something similar to that, if not a few more, in 2008," Daniel says.
The female advisers I consult for this column always provide good counsel, and I hope Heritage Financial is successful in reaching its goals.
If the idea of becoming an adviser has piqued the interest of any of you, feel free to call Daniel or Calvin at 801-355-2091.Meanwhile, if you have financial questions, keep sending them to me at email@example.com or the Deseret Morning News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110. Maybe someday soon I'll have new female advisers providing answers for you.