Hightower’s McCartan: Promote Awareness of Industry for Women

Meghan McCartan Advises Spreading Awareness of Wealth Management to Encourage Women in Careers, Listening to Women and Adapting Brands, Products and Service Models 

Janeesa Hollingshead, Senior Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Have you ever met a metal detector hobbyist – the person who goes to the beach after the throngs of spring break dissipate with a metal detector in hand, waving the wand over the sand like a metronome in search of something unseen?

Though from within the wealth management industry we feel that surely everyone beyond our industry has at least a basic grasp of it, often our industry lies invisible – within reach – but only by those who know how to search for it. 

Would you believe, sight unseen?

Female students, career changers and women from all walks of life may be perfect for various roles in wealth management – and may select something else because they don’t know about industry roles or the rewards of financial services careers.

To learn more, we spoke with WSR Pathfinder Awards – Top Women CMOs in Wealth Management winner Meghan McCartan, Managing Director, Head of Marketing at Hightower Advisors, who previously designed the Outsourced Chief Marketing Officer program for advisors to work in conjuction with the home office to tailor and implement marketing and communications plans specific to their business, for which WealthManagement.com named her among the “Ten to Watch for 2020.” 

Meghan McCartan, Managing Director, Head of Marketing, Hightower Advisors

In her advocacy for working mothers, McCartan founded the award-winning Detours and Onramps Forum in 2006. 

We asked McCartan about ways to encourage women in the wealth management industry, her choice of a career in financial services marketing and marketing trends.

WSR: How did you choose marketing as a career? Were there any specific moments or influences that swayed your decision?

Creativity sparks idea. Idea creates changes.

McCartan: My dad was in advertising and said, “Don’t get into advertising,” but coming from a long line of Irish storytellers, I gravitated to marketing. I was hesitant to jump into financial services, so after I got my MBA in marketing I headed down a path of fashion marketing for the “glamour.” 

After too many weekends working fashion shows and stacking chairs, I decided to switch paths and never looked back. Far from being “boring,” financial services gave me the opportunity to talk to interesting people who are doing great work. 

It’s my job to translate that and build connections. And I love the ability to think creatively in what might otherwise be a black-and-white industry. 

WSR: How do you see the future of marketing unfolding in the wealth management industry? What current trends are carrying us forward? Do you see new trends on the horizon?

McCartan: I think the pandemic opened the door to new connections and conversational topics that might otherwise have been considered out of bounds – and that means relationships can be more genuine and deeper. It also means that advisors need to consider how to have all types of conversations – even the tough ones – as their role in a client’s life takes on increasing importance. 

I also think that we all need to be creative in the way we communicate to reach people where they are (not where we expect them to be) – that means being genuine on social media, thinking creatively about who you work with and who you hire, and, often, stepping out of your comfort zone. 

Just like what they say – life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

WSR: What are three things the wealth management industry can do differently to promote women in the industry?

McCartan: No silver bullet exists – but I believe women can move mountains.

We need to look first at what girls are learning at a young age. We should invest in programs and partnerships designed to spark and maintain an interest in our field among school-aged girls. 

I have four daughters – one of my 16-year-old twins got “stuck” in an investing class, but after day four, she was energized and excited. She was devouring newsletters from our CIO, Stephanie Link. She was lucky to have the model of a strong woman in finance. We need to continue to make investing accessible and that starts with understanding. 

Second, we need to be more clear about what a great career path working in wealth management can be. Women have an empathy and ability to connect that can help them succeed, but if your view of a “financial career” is incomplete you don’t understand the benefits. 

This extends beyond “women” – career changers, those returning to the workplace, veterans looking for a next step – many can succeed here and it’s important to do a better job of explaining what we actually do. We are better when advisor perspective and point of view more closely mirror clients. 

Third, we need to listen to women in our industry – professionals and clients. To attract women to the field, help them become leaders and earn their trust as clients, we need to modernize our brands, products and service models in ways that reflect women’s unique (and widely varying!) attitudes, beliefs, preferences and challenges.  

Janeesa Hollingshead, Senior Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at editor@wealthsolutionsreport.com

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