FA-IQ reached out to advisors to ask: What challenges did you overcome — or are still overcoming — in the male-dominated advisory industry?

Susan Sofronas, managing director at Geller Advisors. New York City and Los Angeles-based Sofronas has been in the industry for 30 years and her firm has $4.6 billion in client assets.

“One of the biggest challenges for women in the financial services industry has been the lack of role models and mentors. We had no one to look up to, no one to turn to for advice, and no one who listened to our ideas. With a lack of women role models, it made it challenging for us to navigate a career path and advocate for ourselves.

As a result, we were less likely to take risks, speak up in meetings, make suggestions, express our opinions and control our time.

Fortunately, the industry is listening and placing a greater value on mentoring and coaching, culture and leadership, balancing the needs of a career and family, and providing hybrid compensation models that attract women because they provide a great level of security and support a team structure.

Susan Sofronas
We need to continue to be the drivers of change and get comfortable with the knowledge that change involves risk. If we do not drive change in the industry, mediocrity will become the status quo and we could risk all the progress we’ve made.

We need to speak up more, be less apologetic and not afraid to make mistakes. Be strong, hold your own, know your self-worth and always remember your opinion is important.

If a colleague or a client says something to you that is offensive and unprofessional, call them out and address it right away. If it is too sensitive or you don’t feel comfortable, speak to your manager or your HR representative who can assist you with finding a solution, ensuring that person doesn’t do it again.

If you are new to the industry, prioritize the search for a mentor. If you are a seasoned professional, become a mentor. And always remember: ‘We can do hard things.’”

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