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2 Big IBDs to Get New Women's Choice Award

An organization aimed at recognizing advisors who provide standout service to female clients has picked its first two big award recipients.

Cambridge Investment Research and Commonwealth Financial Network, two of the country’s largest independent broker-dealers, are the first big B-Ds to get the new Women’s Choice Awards for Financial Advisors & Firms; the creators say they will also select 100 individual advisors to recognize by early next year.

Cambridge and Commonwealth "have exhibited female-friendly techniques and tools and practices,” says Ginita Wall, one of the award’s creators and a co-founder of the Women’s Institute for Financial Education, one of the two organizations that partnered to create the award. WomenCertified, which endorses products and services for women consumers, is the other co-creator.

The award has established 17 criteria to gauge how well a firm or an advisor serves women -- although most, such as certification and compliance requirements, simply have to do with being a reputable advisor. Award recipients must meet all of those criteria to receive the award.

The group will require advisors to submit to regular reviews by the client engagement consulting firm Advisor Impact to determine if they continue to meet the criteria, Wall says.

The first 100 advisor recipients will be recognized with a full-page advertisement in USA Today sometime before Thanksgiving or early next year, according to Wall. Firm recipients also will be named in the advertisement.

Wall says she hopes the award will add to the prestige of those planners who design practices that best serve women clients -- and that the winning advisors can use it to develop relationships with new female clients. Ten firms (including Cambridge and Commonwealth as well as LPL Financial, Raymond James and others) have had the award approved by compliance and will allow recipient advisors to use it in their marketing.

“It will be a great recruiting tool,” Wall says. “Women are definitely being courted and want to go to firms that are female friendly at the client level and the firm level.”

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