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Editor's Note: Watch Suze Orman on AC360° tonight at 10pm ET.
Special to AC360°
Look, there’s no denying that Wall Street is quite the boy’s club. But that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out an amazing career; it just means that women might need to fall back on their great intelligence rather than their golf game or frat connections.
You want to talk about not fitting in? I was 29 years old with a resume that simply read “waitress” when I interviewed for a job in a broker-training program. The guy who interviewed me openly shared with me his belief that women should be barefoot and pregnant. That was 1980! But I managed to get the position, and well, you sort of know the rest.
If I was able to find my way, so too can you.
I actually think it may be easier for women after the financial crisis. It’s clear the days of easy-money are long gone. Individuals and businesses are more attuned to making every penny work hard for them and are going to insist that anyone with a stake in their financial lives deliver the goods. That means more emphasis on talent, and less emphasis on chumminess.
I also think the clientele for financial services are undergoing a gender-shift. At no time in history have women been so front and center in earning money and managing the family finances. More women than ever are the primary breadwinner in a family. We also have the continuing trend of women raising children on their own-often without financial assistance from an ex – and the aging boomers means more women than ever will be overseeing retirement assets. And even among married couples, I am seeing women finally step up and realize that they must be an active participant in their family’s money decisions. Not because the men in their life aren’t doing a good job; but because so much is at stake, and so much is confusing, that it takes teamwork to keep the family finances on course. And let’s remember, women outlive men, on average. That means more Boomer women who will be in control of retirement assets. Will all those women be receptive to working with women in the financial field? You better believe it.
So how to get started? Be hungry. Work hard. And be honest. With yourself, and your clients. And lean on the shoulders of women who have managed to navigate their way to positions of influence and power. Check out the Financial Women’s Association; it’s an impressive network of women.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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