Guardian’s Carly Maher: Strategy, People Management and Engagement

Janeesa Hollingshead, Senior Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Park Avenue Securities’ Carly Maher On How to Think Differently About Client Needs, and How Men Can Better Support Women’s Professional Advancement

In this era of rapid change, financial advisors and wealth management professionals often default to the same types of prescribed tools they see others using, but is that the best strategy? 

Sometimes it’s better to take a step back, examining your strategies and challenges with a fresh perspective driven by old-fashioned human intelligence.

While tools are important, We also need to invest on human intelligence.

WSR Pathfinder Awards – Top Women COOs in Wealth Management recipient Carly Maher takes the thoughtful approach as Head of Wealth Management Strategy and Business Operations of Park Avenue Securities, a broker-dealer and RIA subsidiary of Guardian Life Insurance Company, with over 50% growth in client assets in the past three years to $45 billion and 70% annuity sales growth in the same period to $1.7 billion.

With two years of experience at Park Avenue, Maher has led the firm through various growth initiatives in 2021.  This includes the buildout of solutions such as private placement life insurance, private placement variable annuities, jumbo mortgages, trust services and investment credit lines, as well as the launch of a new advisory retirement plan platform. 

 Carly Maher, Head of Wealth Management Strategy and Business Operations, Park Avenue Securities

We spent time with Maher to learn how to approach strategy from the client’s and representative’s perspective with a view to deepening relationships and improving experience, and discuss how the wealth management industry can remove barriers for women.

WSR: As Head of Wealth Management Strategy and Business Operations for Park Avenue Securities, what plans do you have in this role?

Maher: I’m spending more time on long-term strategy, people management and engagement than ever before. This will allow us to place our client’s needs at the center of all our decision making and provide objective wealth management solutions. 

It’s an exciting time to be in the insurance broker-dealer space as many clients are focused on their insurance needs in light of the pandemic, and we have an incredible opportunity to gather assets holistically.  

I am a firm believer in a differentiated experience and investing in the software and platforms that will bring us closer to our clients versus building custom platforms. Our strategy is focused on these foundational and interdependent elements.  

Most importantly, we must be easy to do business with, so simplification and challenging ourselves to think differently about how we engage end-to-end with our financial representatives is an ongoing priority. We are also spending more time thinking about the consumer and how our decisions ultimately affect their experience.

WSR: What barriers have you faced as a woman in the wealth management industry? What initiatives can the industry undertake to remove these barriers?

Maher: Like many women in our industry, it has been a long road to get where I am today. I was challenged early in my career by a lack of female mentors or leaders for guidance and to look up to. Fortunately, I had two incredible male mentors and I would not be where I am today without their guidance and support. 

Men supporting and believing in women is just as important and shouldn’t be overlooked. We need to continue to mentor, grow and prepare women to lead within our industry.  

We understand your needs.

Park Avenue Securities is a subsidiary of Guardian, and I am proud of how incredibly focused Guardian is on installing women in their leadership ranks. This is the first time in my career I am working inside a women-led vertical within a large organization. 

I hope the next generation will have more exposure to female executive leaders in financial services from the onset of their careers.

Janeesa Hollingshead, Senior Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at

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