Consider the following statistics: Only 31% of financial advisors in the U.S. are women. Only 20% of women investors have a financial advisor, but 70% would like to work with a female planner. These numbers are even more impressive given that women possess at least half -- if not more -- of all private wealth in the country and control 80% of all household purchases.

“You have a huge opportunity in the next 40 years,” TD Ameritrade’s Jennifer Gitto told the audience at the Women Advisors Forum today in Huntington Beach, Calif.  Gitto, a strategic relationship consultant and transition specialist, cited the statistics to make her point. In 2010, TD Ameritrade provided assistance to 300 advisors, many of whom who were making the transition from wirehouses and other large firms to their own independent practices or positions in smaller firms.

She used the example of a theoretical female investor who, she said, cannot be served by cookie cutter planning strategies common in the larger firms. This investor, she said, is bringing in $1 million a year and expecting to retire with $20 million in the bank. However, before she does, she is too small as a client for the big guys, even though she’s on the road to a very high net worth. She needs a customized approach, Gitto said.

Planners take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several years to decide, and prepare, to strike out on their own, she added.
To those planners who want to do so, she offered three pieces of advice:

1. Know your reason for doing so. Tell a compelling story that conveys your passion for the move.

2. Plan efficiently. Have all your ducks in a row. Don’t talk to your friends and family — especially not over email your firm may monitor — about your plans.

3. Seek out comprehensive transition support.