How Do We Close the Opportunity Gap for Women-Owned Financial Planning Firms?

The time has come: You are finally ready to start your own financial planning firm.

Perhaps you want to enter a new phase of your professional career, one that better meets your needs — whether it’s more fair compensation or a healthier work-life balance. Maybe you’re motivated by the flexibility and freedom that come with being your own boss.

No matter what is driving your decision, we commend you for taking the leap. At Equita Financial Network, we meet women just like you every single day — aspiring firm leaders who are creating their own path to independence.

Of course, that path is filled with both opportunities and hesitations: How do you leave the security of your paycheck, while supporting your personal and business expenses? Will your clients want to continue working with you once you’ve left your current firm? How do you find the solutions you need to run your business effectively? We know these feelings well, because we’ve been there before.

Getting access to the right resources and support can be a difficult undertaking for any business owner who is just starting out — but research shows it can be significantly more challenging for women.

The Opportunity Gap

Inside and outside of the financial services industry, the data proves that women are natural entrepreneurs. Between 2007 and 2016, women started businesses five times faster than the national average, according to a report commissioned by American Express OPEN. The research also shows that compared to men, women also reinvest more of the profits they earn from their businesses back into their communities and families.

All great news, right?

Underneath that progress lies a critical issue: access. Women business owners still struggle with securing the resources they need to launch their enterprise and foster future growth. For context: Only 2.2% of all venture capital in the United States goes to companies founded solely by women. What’s more, just 2% of women-owned businesses make it to $1 million in revenue — 3.5 times less than their male peers.

While there are many systemic factors that have contributed to the access issue, we can’t help but think of the network piece — the closed communities and barriers to entry that exist for women in the workplace, especially in spaces dominated by men.

In previous blog posts, we have often repeated the old adage, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know” — and in the world of female entrepreneurship, this couldn’t be more accurate. The marked increase in the number of women business owners has signaled a need for outlets that provide women with opportunities to learn from one another — to share stories, solutions, and most importantly, resources, that can fuel their path to growth and success.

Why Collaboration Wins — and How Firms Fall Short

We can personally attest to the power of collaborative outlets for women. Prior to establishing Equita, our founders, Bridget and Katie, were busy leading their own financial planning practices. After bonding over similar career experiences, they wound up collaborating with each other on a few client cases, which led to mutual success. Bridget and Katie soon discovered that by leveraging each other’s unique abilities and resources, they were able to run their businesses more efficiently and spend their time focusing on what mattered most to them, both personally and professionally.

What resulted was a rare and wonderful combination of community and accessibility — and thus, the concept of Equita was born. We believe there is something truly unique in having a network that allows for support, collaboration, connection, and education, while providing all of the resources one could need to run their business, on their own terms.

In recent years, it has become clear that the industry is catching up and understanding the unique challenges female planners face. Some firms have even ramped up recruiting efforts to attract next-gen women to the field, but there’s still a critical missing piece:

These efforts fail to empower women who are already in the industry with the resources they need to stay and succeed.

This is where a network created by women — for women — can make all the difference.

We See a Better Way

Today’s female firm leaders certainly need practical business solutions to achieve success and face challenges head on — from compliance support, to technology, to portfolio management. But beyond those solutions, we at Equita believe there’s an even greater value that comes with fostering a community that women can rely on — one that empowers women to fuel each other’s success, advocate for each other, and feel supported at every stage of their business.

Ultimately, this is how we’ll close the opportunity gap once and for all. It’s like the late Hazel Hawke once said: “Women’s networks are a necessary part of life. A mixture of empathy and brainstorming can move mountains.” Let’s move mountains and seize success, together.

Are you interested in learning more about Equita’s platform? Get in touch with our team today.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Women Supporting Each Other at Work

When we were just starting Equita, Katie Burke and I reached out to other women financial planners to find out what they would value most in a business platform. By far, the number-one resource women wanted was a collaborative network of their female industry peers, who they could reach out to for business and client solutions. They wanted to share best practices and receive support and encouragement from women who faced the same challenges they did.

In a recent blog post, we talked about Anne Welsh McNulty’s Harvard Business Review article, which speaks to the value and the benefit of networks for women. Not only do networks provide support and connection, but they also have a tremendous impact on women’s success in business.

When Women Support Each Other, Amazing Things Happen

Don’t underestimate the power of women connecting with and supporting each other at work. Over the course of my career, I have gone from being a rookie accountant to a managing director at an investment bank. Those experiences taught me that conversations between women have massive benefits for the individual and the organization.

When I graduated college in the 1970s, I believed that women would quickly achieve parity at all levels of professional life; I believed that we had “arrived.” I viewed the lack of women at the top as more of a “pipeline” problem, not a cultural one.

But the support I expected to find from female colleagues — the feeling of sisterhood in this mission — rarely survived first contact within the workplace.

When I was a first-year accountant at a Big Eight firm (now part of the Big Four), I kept asking the only woman who was senior to me if she wanted to go to lunch together. Finally, she told me, “Look, there’s only room for one female partner here. You and I are not going to be friends.”

Sadly, her reaction was rational. Even today, senior-level women who champion younger women are more likely to get negative performance reviews, according to a 2016 study in The Academy of Management Journal.

My brusque colleague’s behavior has a (misogynistic) academic name: the “Queen Bee” phenomenon. Some senior-level women distance themselves from junior women, perhaps because they feel they will be more accepted by their male peers.

As a study published in The Leadership Quarterly concludes, this is a response to inequality at the top, not the cause. Trying to separate oneself from a marginalized group is, sadly, a strategy that’s frequently employed in the workplace. It’s easy to believe that there’s limited space at the top for people who look like you when you can see it with your own eyes.

By contrast, men are 46% more likely to have a higher-ranking advocate in the office, according to economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett. This makes an increasing difference in representation as you go up the org chart. According to a 2016 McKinsey report, “Women in the Workplace,” white men make up 36% of entry-level corporate jobs, and white women make up 31%. But at the very first rung above that, those numbers change to 47% for white men and 26% for white women — a 16% drop. For women of color, the drop from 17% to 11% is a plunge of 35%.

People tend to think that whatever conditions exist now are “normal.” Maybe this (charitably) explains men’s blind spots: At companies where only one in 10 senior leaders are women, nearly 50% of men felt women were “well represented” in leadership, according to McKinsey.

Connection Is Key

Worse than being snubbed by the woman above me was the lack of communication between women at my level. Of the 50 auditors in my class, five were women; all of us were on different client teams. At the end of my first year, I was shocked and surprised to learn that all four of the other women had quit or been fired — shocked at the outcome, and surprised because we hadn’t talked amongst ourselves enough to understand what was happening.

During that year, I had difficult experiences with the men I worked with — they criticized me, commented on my looks, or flatly said I didn’t deserve to work there. But I had no idea that the other women around me were facing similar challenges. We expected our performance to be judged as objectively as our clients’ books, and we didn’t realize the need to band together until it was too late. Each of us had dealt with those challenges individually — and obviously not all successfully.

I resolved not to let either of those scenarios happen again; I wanted to be aware of what was going on with the women I worked with. As I advanced in my career, I hosted women-only lunches and created open channels of communication. I made it a point to reach out to each woman who joined the firm with an open-door policy — I shared advice and my personal experiences, including how to say no to doing traditionally gendered (and uncompensated) tasks like getting coffee or taking care of the office environment. To personal assistants, who might find some of those tasks unavoidable, I emphasized that I was available to talk about any issues in the workplace; I stressed that their roles were critical to the organization, and that they should be treated with respect.

These women-only lunches were essential, and provided a dedicated space to share challenges and successes. Coming together as a group made people realize that their problems weren’t just specific to them, but, in fact, they were collective obstacles. All of this communication vastly improved the flow of information, and relieved tension and anxiety. It reassured us that though our jobs were challenging, we were not alone. In doing so, I hope it lowered the attrition rate of women working at my company — rates that are, across all corporate jobs, stubbornly higher for women than men, especially women of color.

My own daughter has arrived to a workplace that has not changed nearly as much as I had hoped.

Although 40% of Big Four accounting firm employees are women, they make up only 19% of audit partners. Only one in five C-suite members is a woman, and they are still less likely than their male peers to report that there are equal opportunities for advancement.

So, what are women in the workplace to do, when research shows that we’re penalized for trying to lift each other up? The antidote to being penalized for sponsoring women may just be to do it more — and to do it vocally, loudly, and proudly — until we’re able to change perceptions. There are massive benefits for the individual and the organization when women support each other.

The advantages of sponsorship for protégés may be clear, such as getting access to opportunities and having their achievements brought to the attention of senior management. But sponsors gain from these relationships, too; ultimately, they become known as cultivators of talent and as leaders in their companies. Importantly, organizations that welcome such sponsorship benefit as well — they are able to create a culture of support, where talent is recognized and rewarded for all employees. Sponsorship (which involves connecting a protégé with opportunities and contacts and advocating on their behalf, as opposed to the more advice-focused role of mentorship) is also an excellent way for men to be allies in the office.

There’s More Work to Do

I’m thrilled by the rise of women’s organizations like Sallie Krawchek’s Ellevate Network, a professional network of women that support each other across companies to change the culture of business at large. (I’m especially fond of it because it began as “85 Broads,” a network of Goldman Sachs alumnae that drew its name from the old GS headquarters address before Krawcheck, a Merrill alumna, bought and expanded it.) That network spawned a sibling, Ellevest, an investment firm focused on women and companies that advance women. Other ventures include Dee Poku-Spalding’s WIE (Women Inspiration and Enterprise) leadership network, whose mission is to support women in their career ambitions by providing real-world learning via access to established business leaders. I am attempting to make my own dent in this area, having endowed the McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership at my alma mater, Villanova, which supports new research and leadership development opportunities for women.

These are wonderful supplements, but they can’t replace the benefits of and the necessity for connections among women inside a company — at and across all levels. It reduces the feeling of competition for an imaginary quota at the top. It helps other women realize, “Oh, it’s not just me” — a revelation that can change the course of a woman’s career. It’s also an indispensable way of identifying bad actors and systemic problems within a company.

The program doesn’t need to be massive, and you don’t need to overthink it — in fact, there’s a healthy debate about affinity groups run from the top down. Whether you are a first-year employee or a manager, just reach out and make those connections. I’m guessing you’ll find that the return on investment on the cost of a group lunch will be staggering.

If you’d like to learn more about how Equita Financial Network can help women-led financial planning firms succeed through connection and collaboration, please contact us.

Is It Time to Break Away From Your Financial Planning Firm?

As conversations about gender equality have gained steam over the past year, much ink has been spilled on the topic of women in the financial services industry. Many of these think pieces have revealed what we, at Equita, have known for quite some time:

Women make excellent financial advisors.

In her recent New York Times op-ed, Ritholtz Wealth Management’s Blair duQuesnay cites research explaining that female investors are more likely to focus on their family’s financial goals rather than return performance — and moreover, women are less likely to engage in excessive trading and are skilled long-term investors.

All of these qualities should render women a natural fit for a career in providing personal financial advice. But, over the past decade, the number of women in the financial services industry has plateaued and remains below 20%.

Where’s the Disconnect?

It’s a simple question with multiple different answers, so let’s start with the first and most glaring fact: Women financial advisors make 59 cents to every $1 earned by male financial advisors. 59 cents. Unfortunately, meritocracy is a myth at financial services firms, as long-time women’s advocate Kathleen McQuiggan stated to Financial Planning Magazine when this data was first released.

The second answer is apparent in the makeup of the industry itself, as well as in the distinct lack of networking and mentorship opportunities available to female advisors — a topic we recently discussed on the blog. When you look at the media and popular culture, financial advisors are often depicted as older men sporting suits and briefcases, pointing at charts that are purposely complex to convey a sense of mystique — no women to be seen. And within the firms themselves, the barriers to entry still persist.

When combined, these forces not only deter women from the industry altogether; they also drive away existing, talented female advisors who are trying to climb the ladder. These advisors often go one of two directions: They either decide to pursue a different career path or break away to start their own financial planning venture.

Putting It All Together

Do either of these women sound familiar to you?

The first woman — let’s call her “Karen” — is a financial planner at a decent-sized firm. In a word, Karen is disenfranchised. Why? She doesn’t have a mentor she can rely on at her firm for advice about her own professional development and career growth — in fact, there are no female advisors she can relate to at all. Of the male advisors who work at her firm, Karen hasn’t found anyone who can advocate for her. Outside of work, she is stressed about balancing her job with her children and other family obligations. And to top it all off, Karen is underpaid relative to her male peers — and she knows it.

The second scenario is the female advisor who has broken away from her previous firms — but instead of leaving the industry altogether, she decides to start her own practice. Let’s call her “Dana.” Dana chose to run her own financial planning firm because she wanted to take more control over her financial future and long-term success — but running her own business has its challenges. Dana needs front- and back-office resources, which are expensive. She hasn’t been able to find a platform that addresses her needs at a manageable price point. Moreover, Dana is balancing business management with serving her clients, both extremely demanding feats. Essentially, Dana is a silo — she has no network to reach out to for support, for collaboration, or for simply sharing best practices.

If these stories sound realistic, it’s because they are.

These are the struggles both aspiring and established female advisors face. But we’re here to tell you that although these barriers exist, they should not block your path toward success in this industry.

At Equita, our top priority is break down those barriers and close the gap by providing all of the resources breakaway advisors need to run the fee-only financial planning firm they’ve always envisioned. Plus, the fee-only structure helps resolve the feelings of disenfranchisement we spoke of earlier. Many women are more interested in the relationship side of planning, which better aligns with the fee-only model and less with the sales and commission culture that often exists at large brokerage firms.

We’re committed to providing the collaborative network that we, as women, need to succeed in a male-dominated industry. From compliance and insurance, to portfolio management and planning software, our platform is turnkey, which makes it easier to run a firm that allows for work-life balance at an affordable price point.

If all female advisors — especially those like Karen and Dana, in our examples above — had the network and resources currently available to male advisors today, imagine what they could accomplish. Think about how our industry could change for the better if clients had the ability to receive financial advice that was rich with a wide range of experiences and perspectives.

Allowing female advisors to be paid what they are worth and earn what they are entitled to will help us retain more women in the financial services industry — and it’ll help us foster a well-rounded population of advisors that actually reflect the diverse clients they serve.

Want to learn more about the Equita platform? Contact us today.

Find Your Tribe: Why Networking Is Critical to Women’s Empowerment

There’s no doubt about it: Today’s women are killing it in the workplace.

The data speaks for itself. According to recent reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 73 million women in the U.S. workforce today. What’s more, women own close to 10 million businesses and are more likely than men to have earned a bachelor’s degree by age 29. These are just a few of the many statistics that underscore the major, professional strides women have made over the past few decades.

Despite these advances, another obstacle stands in the way of success: A very low percentage of women advance to corporate leadership positions.

Twelve percent of the chief executive officers (CEOs) of large U.S. financial firms are women. And when you look at the Fortune 500, the numbers are even more dismal: Women make up just 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs and just 7% of top executives at Fortune 500 companies. At some point, the pipeline breaks when women strive for the top.

How Do We Bridge the Gap?

At Equita Financial Network, we have spent a lot of time researching and brainstorming solutions to this issue. To find answers, we decided to get input from the women we felt could speak to it best: our peers in the field.

We reached out to fellow female planners to find out what they felt our industry lacked in terms of representation, and what they would find most valuable to their business. Time and again, we heard the same answer: a collaborative network of like-minded women who led similar planning firms.

Their responses made sense to us — after all, there’s a reason the old adage, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know,” is repeated so often in business. Networking is a critical piece of the puzzle and is essential to women’s professional success — especially in the financial services industry, which is built around relationships.

A network provides the support, mentorship, and collaboration women need to climb the ladder. Women who already hold influential positions at their firms can help advise others as they progress through their careers, especially when they reach major milestones or decisions, such as interviewing for a partner position or breaking away to start their own practice.

But there’s the underlying problem: These networks often don’t exist for women at financial planning firms.

The Missing Piece

Instinctively, we tend to relate to, mentor, collaborate, and advocate for people that share similar mindsets, histories, and personalities. But, because our industry is primarily led by men, women tend to be excluded from these all-important networks and opportunities — which is what has kept so many of us from achieving top leadership positions at our respective firms.

This is what drove our co-founders to start their own financial planning practices and, ultimately, what led to the creation of Equita Financial Network. At Equita, we understand how valuable women’s opinions, ideas, and experiences are to our profession, especially when it comes to serving clients and their unique needs.

Through our resources and programs such as the Advisory Women’s Exchange (AWE), we rely on research and insights from women in our industry to address the issues that are most critical to career success. We offer our members peer-to-peer mentorship, coaching, and experiential exercises to encourage professional growth and share best practices.

The Key to Women’s Empowerment Is…Women

In her 2016 article for the Harvard Business Review, Anne Welsh McNulty proclaimed:

“Don’t underestimate the power of women connecting and supporting each other at work.”

We couldn’t agree more with Anne’s take on the topic because we’ve seen, firsthand, what happens when women come together to bypass systemic biases and create their own vision of success.

We have dedicated our professional lives to providing the missing piece that allows women to build successful financial planning firms, which helps retain them in the industry and foster a more inclusive next generation of planners.

When women are in leadership positions, they can control their destiny, get paid what they are worth, and have the support they need to thrive. Are you interested in joining our network? Contact us today.

How to Build the Financial Planning Practice You Want to Work For

Let’s paint a picture of two, typical women in the financial services industry.

The first is Katie, a financial planner who works for a firm in California. One day, Katie receives the call that those of us with young children dread: It’s from her nanny, saying that her child is sick.

Of course, this means Katie must take the day off of work to care for him. But, as the employee of a financial planning firm run by men, the news doesn’t go over well. When Katie returns to work the following day, she is called into a meeting by the male leaders of the firm, who tell her that she needs to find a contingency plan for her nanny — and that plan can’t involve Katie.

The second woman in our picture is Bridget, a financial planner who is receiving an annual performance review by the owner of the wealth management firm she works for. Leadership has tasked Bridget with helping build the firm’s financial planning practice, and she is passionate about her work and the contributions she has made. In addition to serving her growing client list, Bridget frequently speaks to community organizations, hosts countless events, and even launched a monthly women’s group.

During her review, Bridget requests an increase in compensation for her efforts and the goals she has accomplished. Not only are Bridget’s requests flatly denied, but the firm owner tells her that she is “too ambitious” and “too aggressive,” and even remarks that her efforts are “a waste of time.” Bridget leaves the meeting in shock, feeling powerless.

If you haven’t guessed by now, we are these women — and today, we are the founders of Equita Financial Network. But our stories are far from unique. They mirror the experiences of women across our industry, from firms large and small.

Of course, it’s no secret that the financial services world is devoid of female voices — in fact, we make up less than 20% of the advisors working in the field. Outside of our industry, the problem persists — surveys have shown that women make successful leaders, but often don’t have the mentorship, resources or capital needed to grow their businesses.

If you have faced discrimination or hardship at your firm, you’ve probably stepped back and asked yourself: “Why? Is there a better way forward?”

It helps to look at the big picture. You likely pursued a career in financial services because you’re driven by passion — by the need to help others achieve their financial goals and feel confident and secure about their future.

We should never let systemic biases railroad our drive and purpose. We owe it to future generations, to our clients, and to ourselves to find a better way. But how can we continue to do meaningful work in an environment that doesn’t provide us with the support we need to actually do it?

Take the Road Less Traveled

For us, the solution was quite clear: “Launch your own firm.” After we started our own firms, we felt completely fulfilled — we had more flexibility and fair compensation, and saw the results of our hard work translate into growing, thriving businesses.

But that doesn’t mean the decision wasn’t stressful. It was tough to walk out the door and start anew without knowing what resources we truly needed, where to find them, and how to pay for them. By far, our biggest challenge was the distinct lack of a supportive network for collaboration, which made the road to independence far more difficult.

Solutions for Today and Tomorrow

Now, more than ever before, we need female representation in our industry. We need women in positions of power — leaders who can effectively support, relate to, nurture, and develop female advisors to foster a more inclusive next generation.

We all know the statistics — and now is the time to take action and address them.

And perhaps, most importantly, we need resources made by women, for women. It’s the reason why we founded Equita Financial Network. Our turnkey platform encourages women to start their own, fee-only financial planning firms, covering everything from registration and compliance, to insurance coverage and portfolio management, to bookkeeping for clients. The goal is to empower women to run their business the way they want to — fairly, and in the way that allows them to best serve their needs and their clients’ needs.

The right resources open the door to professional fulfillment and a healthier wellbeing — and they also allow you to build a culture that positions others to thrive, encourages pay equality, favors work-life balance, and creates a community for women to collaborate, share best practices, and client solutions. When we come together and support one another, we create a more promising future, on our own terms.

Are you ready to take the leap and launch the practice you’ve always envisioned? Contact us to start the conversation.

How Collaboration in Business Makes a Difference to Women

By noon today I felt defeated. I had a few reasons that started me down this path, including another day of two sick kids following my every move as I tried to navigate a schedule full of conference calls (very thankful for the quick response of the mute button on my headset!) and client deadlines. The stress of trying to juggle work, constant sickness and holding everything together at home was finally taking a toll on me.

My last call of the day left me marked with the most lasting impression. Instead of feeling stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted, the call left me energized and optimistic. It solidified that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Every other week the women who are members of Equita have a call to discuss a wide range of things. It is a time to share a new tool you discovered that has made your client service process more efficient, ideas for marketing better to COIs, or strategizing about the fee structure for a prospective client. Today we dove right into discussing our business goals for 2019. After starting my planning firm almost 4 years ago, the conversation made me realize that the way I think about my business plan and goals for the year was different than the way everyone else approached their business plan. Each of us had a different way of approaching this task. Some plans were in a spreadsheet format carefully detailing out expected revenue, others were nicely written documents listing out marketing plans and new ways to find prospective clients. Mine is more of a mix by taking a little from the spreadsheet, some from the written goals, but most of all mine is a list of bullet points on a glass whiteboard in my office. When I complete one of these items it is the BEST feeling in the world to physically cross it off the list. I look at the list every single day. The point of the conversation was not focused on the best way to write a business plan for 2019, but an opportunity to look at the process from different perspectives. It was a chance to be vulnerable, to learn, and a reason to be excited not only about where my firm is headed this year, but where every woman in the group is headed.

Bridget and I have conversations every single day with women who want to take the leap and build the financial planning business they want. Each conversation is unique because each woman has her own challenges to make it happen, and her own hesitations. How do you leave a paycheck and support your personal and business expenses? Will your clients want to continue to work with you once you leave the firm you are at? How do you go about finding the solutions you need to run your business? Where do you even start? It can all be extremely overwhelming and can leave you paralyzed. Trust me when I say that we have been there. Equita is not about just Bridget and I, it is about creating a community of women to support one another and build successful businesses.

This is exactly where I am supposed to be. A place that allows me to build my planning firm, Method Financial Planning, the way I want and work with the clients I want to work with. It is also a place that allows me to offer my clients the planning and service solutions that they would expect from a much larger firm, and a place where I feel supported as part of a community that has so much to offer.

If you are thinking about the next step in your career we would love to start the conversation.

Written by Katie Burke, Co-Founder of Equita Financial Network and President of Method Financial Planning.

How the Western Woman Will Change the World

In 2016, the Dalai Lama proclaimed with his great wisdom that, “The western woman is going to change the world.”

There is such tremendous strength in our ability to collaborate, our empathy and compassion, our drive, and intelligence. But to move the needle on this change requires more than just talking about it. It requires action. I’d like to share my story behind launching Equita with my co-founder Katie Burke, and how we hope it can truly make a difference to the women led planning firms across the country and the many clients these planners serve.

Several years ago I launched WealthChoice, a financial life planning firm for women executives and their families. It was not what I intended when I entered the financial planning industry. I never expected to launch my own firm. But years working tireless hours every week for a traditional RIA, getting paid a fraction of what male planners were being paid at the firm, hearing that I was “too old” by other firms to consider a lateral move, being told I was too ambitious by my boss, or that my efforts to bring women together was a waste of time, all converged in 2016 to help me launch my financial planning firm. And with unbelievable anxiety and stress I launched, on my own, with a vision and passion and my client’s trust.

This is where Equita comes in.

In order to provide the highest level of guidance to my clients, my firm needs the best business resources. As a small woman-led business, I found it easier to outsource these resources rather than curate them myself, mostly for fear of missing key pieces or making mistakes. I also wanted to have more time to focus on client service, which was possible by outsourcing many business resources.

Our role as financial planners is to help women who are working so very hard, live life on their terms. Financial planning is an absolute passion of mine, but so is having my own firm. We are intentional in who we serve, and how we serve our clients. My firm is an extension of myself, and it is a personal passion. It brings me tremendous fulfillment. But with growth, it also caused me to step back to see how we could structure our business better so that we could do more of what we do best, serve clients.

In the course of business I met and collaborated with another financial planner on some client cases to great success. Katie Burke, President of Method Financial Planning, and I realized the great power in collaborating in our businesses. Clients benefit, we benefit. Katie and I started to share best practices in business and planning on a more frequent basis. We saw the terrific results and knew that other women could benefit. So we started to dig into what could allow us to be even better planners and how we could make that available for other independent women led planning firms.

We wanted solutions that would allow us to have more time to spend on what is most important to our firms, and that is great financial planning solutions for our clients. We both realized that having outstanding business resources behind us would allow us to do better work and run our businesses more efficiently. It would allow us the time and resources to grow our businesses intentionally, and not be bogged down with running our businesses, but rather streamline the operations side. We wanted a platform for collaboration, for sharing curated resources, for succession planning, for helping other women led firms be successful. To do this, we needed a platform of the best industry resources, which we spent the next 7 months assembling.

This past week WealthChoice and Method Financial Planning became the first Member firms of Equita Financial Network. We are thrilled to welcome fellow women-led financial planning firms to the platform and look forward to making a difference to clients and women business owners on a scale we have not yet seen in our industry.

There is power in bringing smart, driven, like-minded women together in business. Together we will change the future for our clients, and for women business owners.

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