Theresa Gusman-First Affirmative Financial Network

Now is the Moment for Women Advisors and ESG Customization

By Theresa Gusman, First Affirmative Financial Network

First Affirmative Financial Network LogoAn enormous transfer of wealth is underway in America that presents an historic opportunity for the financial services industry and specifically for women advisors and customized ESG investing. Female advisors – though they are outnumbered by their male counterparts by more than four to one – are better positioned to guide the clients on the receiving end of this transfer.

First, let’s talk about that wealth transfer and what’s behind it.

Today, 70 percent of investable wealth held by U.S. households is held by baby boomers. McKinsey & Company determined through a survey last year that two-thirds of those assets are held by joint households where a woman is present, but not actively involved in financial decisions.

The female partner in these unions is likely to be younger and longer-lived than the male. As men in the baby boomer generation pass away, they will be leaving significant wealth to their partners. McKinsey estimates this shift will put women in control of $30 trillion in financial assets by 2030. Historically, seven in ten women move to a new financial advisor within a year of their spouse’s death.

At the same time, millennials, who are now 25 to 40 years old, are approaching their peak earning years. Many have a different view of investments than their parents.

These two demographic groups have at least one important thing in common. Millennials and women value investment principles that have a positive impact on challenging issues, such as climate change, gender diversity, social justice, and employee equity. Demographic trends are among several powerful political, economic, and societal forces combining to produce a global investment landscape that demands increased alignment of core values and investment decisions

Values are brought into investments by integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into the decision-making process. However, one size does not fit all in sustainable, responsible, and impact (SRI) investing. Values and beliefs, and ethical, environmental, and social preferences are personal. Mutual funds, managed models, and especially ETFs are not.

To remain competitive, advisors must consider a truly consultative approach, combined with portfolio-construction know-how and technology that can give investors the personalization, transparency, and access they want.

Female Advisors: More Consultative, Better Investors and in Demand

Female advisors are well-suited for the job. In choosing and retaining their financial advisor, consumers most often cite characteristics that go well beyond investment knowledge. Key traits include personalization, expertise, empathy, education, effectiveness, quality interactions, and trust. Many of these are traditionally viewed as “female characteristics.”

Although it may not be the only reason investors cite for choosing a financial advisor, women may also be better investors than men.

A study published by Goldman Sachs looking at March through August 2020 – the most volatile period in market history – found that 48 percent of female managed funds outperformed, compared with 37 percent for male managed funds.

A long-term study published by Morningstar in 2018 found that female fixed income managers outperformed their male counterparts and equity managers performed in line.

Finally, women – who will control the purse strings within 10 years – prefer to work with female advisors. According to a 2013 Insured Retirement Institute study, 70 percent of women seeking a financial advisor would prefer to work with a female advisor. Among younger woman aged 25-34, State Street Global Advisors found that 55 percent prefer to work with a female advisor.

Customization – The Future of ESG Investing

Meaningful consultation is the foundation for portfolio customization and personalization. Investors have become increasingly aware that the ways they save, spend, and invest can dramatically influence both the fabric and consciousness of society, and that they bear responsibility for the impact their money has in the world. However, most have quickly realized one-size-fits-all portfolios do not reflect their individual financial objectives and environmental, social, and ethical preferences. True customization will be the key driver of ESG investing going forward.

As a pioneer in socially responsible values-aligned investing, First Affirmative offers investors decades of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) research and portfolio construction expertise to translate a client’s values into a customized portfolio. We enable advisors to work with their clients to deliver the Sustainable Investment Solution best aligned with their client’s financial objectives and values. We help advisors assess the impact their clients’ investments have on climate change, gender diversity, income inequality, religious values, and family, community, employee, and societal health and well-being. Our recently introduced advanced technology platform, called AffirmativESG, allows advisors to build customized portfolios based on their clients’ values with ease. Its automated account opening, portfolio construction, investment policy statement generation, tax management, and performance reporting functions are easy to use and highly dependable.

Even advisors new to ESG can easily help clients align their financial goals with their moral compasses in successful investment portfolio strategies. First Affirmative is here to help. Want to learn more about First Affirmative or AffirmativESG? Please visit our website at or contact us at


Article by Theresa Gusman, Chief Investment Officer at First Affirmative Financial Network, where she is on a mission to change the way companies, advisors and individuals see their investments. Her commitment to incorporating environmental, social, and governance issues into investment decisions began early in her 30-plus year investment career. First Affirmative’s unique AffirmativESG platform provides a unique, proprietary foundation for analysis, assessment and measurement.  

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