Recruiting Minorities, Women: Brokers Say They're Trying
Monahan, Julie, American Banker
Brokerage firms say they are trying to hire more women and minorities to sell to the growing number of prosperous people in these groups.
To recruit such employees, many companies are using targeted help-wanted ads and building closer ties to minority professional associations.
"There is definitely more diversity now than back in the 1980s or 1970s," says Brent Watson, a financial adviser at Merrill Lynch & Co.
But the actual number of women and minorities working in brokerage firms is still small.
In a notable confession of the industry's flaws, Joseph Grano, president of PaineWebber Inc., admitted, "We have not done a good job as an industry in this regard, though there have been many attempts, and lots of money thrown at the problem.
"We have a hard time in attracting minorities," he continued. "And part of that is not being able to show them a pattern of success."
With U.S. demographics changing, the securities industry has a vested interest in improving its mix of employees.
The Securities Industry Association estimated there are some 800,000 largely untapped investment customers in women-and-minorities market. The trade group, along with the National Association of Securities Professionals and the Securities and Exchange Commission's Securities Industry Committee on Equal Opportunity, is wrestling with the diversity problem.
At an SIA meeting in November, the group's diversity committee discussed opportunities in the new investor market and offered to show firms how to tap it with marketing, product development, recruitment, and other strategies.
PaineWebber has several initiatives under way. Each business unit has its own diversity plan, and the company as a whole has a program to recruit promising female and minority graduates.
The firm also has plans for satellite offices in minority neighborhoods.
For its new branch office in Flushing, N.Y., home to many affluent Asian-Americans, PaineWebber expects to quickly expand from four full-time brokers to as many as 15. Nearly all will probably be Asian-American, it said.
McDonald & Co., based in Cleveland, has also aggressively pursued women and minorities through community-based organizations and professional associations such as the National Black MBA Association and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs.
The firm has 36 employees who are members of the Hispanic MBA group, which pushes for equal opportunities for young finance professionals in what it calls "an often hostile environment."
Despite these efforts, some diversity advocates are critical of the industry's record in hiring women and minorities.
LaMonte Owens, a Philadelphia recruiter specializing in minority candidates for jobs in financial services, said he is "still talking after 30 years about diversity recruiting. …