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#MeToo meets wealth management

Ask any woman in wealth management if she’s witnessed or experienced sexual harassment. Chances are, she has a story to tell.

I didn’t expect so many people to have a story.

Earlier this year, I worked with two colleagues to conduct a survey on sexual harassment across a broad swath of industries. The response was overwhelming. More than 3,000 independent planners, wirehouse advisors, bankers, accountants, insurance brokers and other professions completed the survey. Thousands commented on their experiences, beliefs, worries and anger about unwanted sexual behavior in their industries.

“I didn’t expect so many people to have a story — to have something to say about harassment,” says Dana Jackson, vice president of research at SourceMedia, who worked with me and Bonnie McGeer, executive editor of American Banker, on studying the results. (SourceMedia is the owner of Financial Planning, American Banker and many other business publications.)

“Both men and women were candid and emotional in their responses — they weren’t just checking off boxes,” Jackson adds.

In reporting our main story, “Why is sexual harassment still a problem in wealth management?” Financial Planning Senior Editor Andrew Welsch finds many women are frustrated and demoralized.

“The survey data clearly supports that women in wealth management think more needs to be done,” Welsch tells me. “They want better sensitivity training and a firmer commitment by upper management.“ He adds that the profession needs to do more to welcome women into the profession. “For example, think of how many CEOs of major wealth management firms are women,” he says. “Not many.”

Overall, this is part of a broader conversation Americans are having about sexual misconduct in the workplace, politics and elsewhere. “I don’t know where it will end,” Welsch says, “but women are leading the discussion.”

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