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Cassaday & Co. names first female president

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Cassaday & Co. has named Allison Felix as president, part of the hybrid RIA’s plan to eventually transition her into the chief executive role, says current CEO Steve Cassaday.

While he has no immediate plan to step down, Cassaday has been training Felix to take over his role for the last decade, he says.

Being named president signals Felix’s position as Cassaday’s successor to employees and clients, Felix says. She has also been named principal, which makes her one of four employees to have ownership in the firm.

In addition to the new titles, Felix will continue to serve as COO, a position she has held for seven years.

Felix says she is excited to be the first woman to fill the role of president.

“There’s no secret that the industry struggles with attracting women from an advisor perspective and from a leadership perspective,” she said.

Cassaday & Company has 10 financial advisors, according to the firm. It manages almost $2.4 billion in AUM, according to the firm's latest Form ADV. The leadership team is comprised of 60% women, most of whom started in support roles, Felix says. Six of the eight department heads are women.

While the firm’s leadership is primarily female, it has no women serving as financial advisors, Felix says.

Although the industry reflects stark disparities, these firms are leading their peers in the hiring of female registered representatives.
June 11

“We have struggled to both acquire and retain females interested in that role,” says Felix. “So we don’t have any female advisors on staff, which is not without trying.”

This trend is not unique across the industry. Only 16 in 100 advisors are female, according to a Cerulli report. Female advisors on staff have moved away, switched career paths or decided to go to other firms, Felix says.

One way to turn the tide is to change the way the job is conveyed, specifically at universities, says Felix. Women in the industry say their motivator for choosing the financial planning career path is providing greater value and a higher level of client service, according to Fidelity’s 2016 Financial Advisor Community, Future Ready Study.

“If we promoted more of how we are helping people in this industry, then I think the interest would grow,” says Felix. “There’s certainly value that women can bring to people in this industry.”

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