What changes do you hope to see for women in the retirement industry in the next 5 -10 years? I would personally hope to see women equally represented in financial sales; the good news is that women are taking more jobs within the financial services industry at large, but most are around service, relationship management, education, key accounts etc. We know that women can do this work, and in fact do it quite well – we just need to attract more women and mentor them to have the confidence to get into the sales side of the business.
How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? It’s extremely important that we nurture women who have joined this industry. Any time you start something new, there are always things you wished you’d known. Being a mentor can help close the gaps on some of those unknowns and create confidence to minimize roadblocks. Having someone to confide in, builds trust. And when there is confidence and trust, loyalty and success often follow. I believe it is a gift to mentor others; to help them succeed. I always find I learn even more about myself by authentically investing in a mentee.
Is WIPN a force for change? Absolutely– WIPN is about change. Think specifically how we evolved from WIPN to We. Inspire. Promote. Network. I have seen us go from supporting our local chapters, in more siloed manner, to expanding working on a national level with the work that we do. I think it’s incredible the cross-chapter collaborations and the true inclusivity of the organization.
Prior to joining WIPN — how difficult (or easy) was it to find networking and/or mentoring opportunities in the retirement industry? Like women in the retirement industry, they were few and far between, often with little cadence or depth of content. Now there are monthly occurrences, amazing content and speakers, and a real sense of community and continuity.
My favorite quote is … “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” — Theodore Roosevelt. How accurate this is! And it’s perfect for WIPN because that’s the core of our mission. Letting those we network with know how much we care about them!
Shelley Sievers, AIF®, CPFA (She/Her)
Manager, Retirement Services
M Financial Group
What changes do you hope to see for women in the retirement industry in the next 5 -10 years? I would love to continue seeing women and LGBTQ+ members in all levels of leadership throughout the industry. I also hope to see further progress towards narrowing the wage gap so all individuals, regardless of race or gender, are fairly compensated.
How did you find out about WIPN? And, how would you describe WIPN to a peer or colleague? I first learned of WIPN from a former colleague Ivana Polonijo who encouraged me to join. At the time, the impostor syndrome feelings were strong, but I’ve been consistently encouraged and impressed with the content and connections that WIPN has provided me over the years. I would describe WIPN as an organization of professionals with an earnest desire to support and educate one another, through WIPN-led development webinars, individual networking and mentorship opportunities, as well as sponsored in-person and virtual events.
Is WIPN a force for change? Absolutely. Particularly in the rebranding efforts, WIPN is embracing inclusivity and pushing the envelope to discuss topics that some are unsure how to approach within their organizations. The DE&I discussion led by Allie Shafer on Leveling the Playing Field for the LGBTQ+ Community was a great example of this work. I was so encouraged by the feedback and candid questions that were shared during the discussion, proving that WIPN provides a safe place for conversations that may be difficult for some.
Prior to joining WIPN — how difficult (or easy) was it to find networking and/or mentoring opportunities in the retirement industry? Prior to joining WiPN, I wasn’t aware of any formal networking opportunities that were dedicated to the retirement space. Being in Portland, I was a member of a group that focused in the investment management space, but the retirement space was fairly unrepresented and a pretty niche sector of the financial services industry.
My favorite quote is … One of my favorite quotes is “all boats rise” which is based on the JFK quote “A rising tide lifts all boats.” I’ve used this quote a lot with young athletes I’ve coached and I love the concept that any level of improvement in one athlete can translate to the entire team becoming a stronger, more united unit. This concept translates equally within WIPN as well. As we encourage and lift each other up, we raise the level of impact our members have on their communities and organizations. I’ve been fortunate to benefit from a fellow WIPN member in a leadership position within her organization who always carves out time to encourage and coach me. I plan to pay this forward and do the same for younger professionals entering our industry.
DCIO Retirement Specialist- South Central Region
Wells Fargo Asset Management
How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? It’s extremely important to be a role model for upcoming generations in the industry. I’m fortunate to work for a company that has several females in management and portfolio manager positions, and multiple diversity initiatives and intercompany women’s groups. The visibility and support promotes a culture of acceptance, and is really inspirational. I think it’s important for young women to have a support system of like-minded individuals to show them what is possible and encourage them to reach their professional and personal goals at the same time. I’m also fortunate to work in a geographic region where there are so many supportive women in the industry, from retirement consultants, to wholesalers, to TPAs, you name it. The professional relationships, and more importantly, genuine friendships that I’ve made in this industry are lifelong and I’m so thankful for that. It’s really important to have that kind of support when one is starting out in the industry, and to be able to have a sounding board to help with career development and I’d love to be able to pay that forward for up and comers in this industry.
What changes do you hope to see for women in the retirement industry in the next 5 -10 years? I hope to see more women enter and remain in the industry over the next several years. I believe one positive thing that the pandemic may have highlighted is the ability to allow creative work environments. For example, we have been able to successfully do our jobs from anywhere, working non-traditional hours to accommodate working from home, and balancing family and home lives. Hopefully this will show both employers and women looking to get into this industry that it is possible to “be there even when you aren’t.” Given the volume of women-run companies, and women who are the primary bread winners AND caretakers simultaneously, it’s more crucial than ever to have a greater representation in this industry.
How did you find out about WIPN? And, how would you describe WIPN to a peer or colleague? I’ve been doing this job for longer than I care to admit, but I was turned on to women from another wholesaler. She encouraged me to attend a brunch at a conference years ago. I would describe WiPN as a safe space to meet like-minded career women, develop our knowledge of the industry, with a focus on our unique circumstances, while having a lot of fun and making some lifelong friends along the way.
How do you see WIPN affecting positive change in your career? The most positive change in my career from WiPN is the number of both professional relationships and friendships I’ve made. I have a network of strong supportive women that I can pick up the phone and call or text at any time to help me solve a problem, bounce ideas off up, or just to share a laugh.
Is WIPN a force for change? WiPN is a force of change for not only encouraging women to enter the industry but helping them remain in the industry. Especially over the last year. Working from home can make you feel like you are on an island, so to speak, and having the support of other WiPN members, and seeing their faces and hearing their voices amidst all of the “noise” is really helpful. I also think we have the opportunity to take what we have learned from said WiPN events to our own companies to help be the voice of change, if needed and to help create better opportunities for the future.