As we continue to build the dialogue around diversity, equity, and inclusion, it was timely to be able to sit down with Mark Berg, CFP®, and Mark Johannessen, CFP®, AIF®, who participated in the Financial Planning Association 2018 Annual Conference panel, “Winning the Fight for the Female Talent: How Firms Can Gain an Edge.” In an effort to open the conversation and gain multiple perspectives, the panel was comprised of both men and women, which allowed for a more dynamic dialogue and several unique perspectives were shared.
Both Mark Berg and Mark Johannessen have spent years building their financial planning careers, but they’ve also taken a special interest in attracting, retaining, and empowering female talent in every role within their individual practices. In a traditionally male-dominated profession, this intentional inclusion is noteworthy. Whether intentional or not, many financial planning practices continue to hire the “industry standard” - men, the majority of whom are typically white.
Both Mark Berg and Mark Johannessen practice and preach that actively seeking female employees to hire with diversity in mind isn’t enough. They each take extra measures to retain their female talent, and to build a workplace environment that fosters their success. This episode is incredibly informative, and I’m so excited to be continuing these critical conversations around inclusion and what it means to be an ally.
What You'll Learn:
How to write job descriptions that are inherently inclusive
How to put the most marginalized gender at the center of your firm’s decision-making and supporting her
What benefits come from building a workplace culture that benefits women
How to not just hire with inclusivity in mind, but retain female employees by building a supportive workplace culture
How to implement hiring practices that are less gendered
What language is traditionally gendered, and how to change your tone
The best way to build a well-defined career path for everyone in your workplace
How to provide a professional atmosphere
How to structure your compensation plan to be more inclusive and reward everyone for what they contribute to the team
How to incorporate inclusivity in your core values
How to build an active mentoring program within your business
Rianka: 00:00 We are live at the Financial Planning Association Annual Conference 2018 and I'm sitting in front of Mark Berg and Martin Johannesson. I am very excited to sit with you all today. So you just had a really great panel. Uh, it was on winning the fight for the female talent, how firms can gain the edge and I wanted to make sure I spoke with both of you specifically because in our previous episode, episode two of 2050 trailblazers, you know, Ed mentioned you both directly, um, and he was mentioning how they were planning the conference and um, you know, they wanted to make sure there was diversity inclusion incorporated and how they're going to have a women's panel, right? He was like, but we can't just have all women, you know, so let's reach out to some men who are being allies and you know, being supportive of, of women and um, he, he picked you two. So ultimately why did you say yes to being on this panel?
Mark J.: 01:09 I thought it was a really interesting take on a panel and kind of changing the dynamic because I think in the past when we've had these types of panels in the or in the past when we've had these panels, we've had women speaking to women and when he brought it up and I thought it was a great idea as well, I thought maybe that would be enough to bring men into the room because men need to hear this and not just women
Rianka: 01:33 and Mark B. What about you?
Mark B.: 01:36 You know, as I, as I thought about the topic, I found that, um, a lot of my, my peers in the industry have really expressed a lot of challenge in this area of finding good talent, but they're also not looking as hard as as maybe they could. And I think that there is a vast blue ocean of talent within women, uh, in that could really thrive in this profession. And maybe they don't have the normal entry points that we see. Uh, but at least in our experience, we found that, uh, they're highly educated, highly trainable, highly motivated. Um, and we're trying to create an environment where they can thrive and we've, we've had success and I wanted to just share what we've been doing to hopefully excite others to do the same because I think there's some great opportunity.
Rianka: 02:39 Yes. And you brought up a really great example that I want you to share with the listeners of 2050 trailblazers, especially just to add a little bit of context as well. Um, over the past 14 years, the number of women CFP professionals have remained the same at 23 percent. So it is a very important conversation and I'm very excited you two, uh, men stepped up to just share what you all are doing and your practices to help attract and retain. And Mark B, you mentioned something I thought was very brilliant, right? It was flexibility is important and you hired an associate to your firm who didn't necessarily have the education, the level of education that was needed for that, um, that position, but you, you hired her anyway and you helped her along the way. So tell us that story.
Mark B.: 03:39 Yeah. Well, when we do interviewing, uh, we're, we are interviewing for a position, but um, there are times where we just find a person that we just want on the bus and, and we think that they are going to thrive in any position. Uh, we put them in. That was the case with Lydia and, and I knew when, when she was joining us that, that she had her associate's degree and not her bachelor's degree and she had expressed the desire to be a CFP, a financial planner and I, and, and, but she was not from the industry, so she was kind of in a, in a tangential industry when she joined us. And so, um, we sat down and basically charted out a course, uh, where we would pay for her bachelor's degree. We would give her time for study, um, and then immediately upon finishing her bachelors, we would then pay for her CFP program, uh, to finish that. So creating that track and she has been an absolute all star. She's been everything that we expected and more. And we feel that investing in our people is critical to do. To do so, and you have to be flexible to see what is their specific circumstance and how can we best meet that circumstance. And thus far we're small so it gives us, there's only eight of us. So that gives us the ability to, to do that. And we'd like to continue.
Rianka: 05:08 I keep hearing this, um, you know, sometimes it's best to not necessarily always hire for experience but hire also for the potential, like you see the potential in this person and you have the tools to be able to help them grow and you know, there will be a solid addition, a solid asset to your team. So I thought that was a phenomenal example that if firms have that flexibility, if they have that type of revenue to this is, this is an example that they could actually implement Mark J the number of percentage as far as women are a little bit higher than, you know, just across the board from the industry and our profession, um, at one firm. And what do you attribute that to?
Mark J.: 06:02 She'll kill me for saying this, but you know, Eleanor Blayney was so dynamic and she and my other partners probably wouldn't admit it day to day, but one on one, they would. Eleanor was the brains behind the operation and she showed us how to run portfolios, how to write the client letters. I mean, we all, in those early days, we all did a lot of different things, right? But Eleanor was this supreme talent, um, you know, you got a degree in English from a, from Mount Holyoke, a masters in English from Cambridge and then an MBA from Chicago. So phenomenal, right? And so, um, I don't think it was so much that we were intentional about it. It was just that we created a space so that as people were coming on board, like I said, we were hiring the best available where the need was and it never was really kind of pink or blue. It just was that, that's who was the best person.
Rianka: 07:05 And you may not know this, but, uh, I know Eleanor Blayney personally. Um, and it's because of the connection through Elizabeth Jetton. And I know as we were chatting before we started our conversation today, you know, you were naming some phenomenal women in our profession and um, you know, Elizabeth Jetton, I was going through a very interesting time in my career where I was considering do I fit in and do I belong in this profession? And I'm so happy. Uh, Elizabeth, she was my mentor at the FPA residency. Um, and she knew that I was in DC and so she said, as soon as you get back, I'm connecting you with Eleanor Blayney. And Eleanor blayney really just poured into me, made the connections, introduced me to Lazetta Rainey Braxton, who I am really great friends with today. So Eleanor Blayney. For those who don't know her, I will make sure I put her bio in the show notes so you can learn more about
Mark J.: 08:09 retired now. And sad but a great friend still still involved even though fully retired. But, but you're right, I had this whole cadre of big sisters. Yeah. And, uh, I don't know that Alex Armstrong would ever considered me a little brother, but, uh, you know, the Grand Dame financial planning by all means, and then Karen Schaefer and Peggy Ruhlin, and Elisa Buie and Elizabeth Chatam, right? And even Deena Katz who is here today, uh, when Harold was getting his award and, you know, these, these folks were instrumental in my career and, you know, serving on the leadership of FPA, uh, at a time that, where the board was more diverse than the profession and that was always a cool element of that as well. And so these were folks that I relied on to help keep me running on the straight and narrow and uh, and,
Mark J.: 08:56 and they did so and just the people back at the office as well.
Rianka: 09:00 Yeah. So well they lit a torch, um, some sometime ago and they have passed it on and um, my generation is, you know, I'm gonna keep fanning that flame so that we can just continue to push the profession forward as we continue our dialogue and conversation around diversity and inclusion. So I'm very grateful for, for those women as well. So Mark B., I would like for you just to give us a overview of your firm and then you gave some really great examples as far as a retention and retaining women, uh, at your farm. So give us a overview of, of your firm.
Mark B.: 09:48 Well, uh, so I've been in financial planning for almost 25 years now. I started at a large a RIA fee only firm, um, but around 2000 I struck out on my own to start an hourly only financial planning firm and uh, did that to try to meet what I thought was an unmet need and we found indeed it was unmet and uh, have been, uh, on a race ever since. And I'm very grateful for it.
Mark J.: 10:21 Can you help me find one in DC?
Mark B.: 10:23 Uh, yeah, actually, uh, Tom, out your way has been a good referral source our way because there isn't a much. But, um, so we we're located here in Chicago and uh, we've been going for 17 years now and there's eight of us. Uh, we have, uh, three men and five women. And in that mix, a only one is more administrative. Uh, Becky who's our office manager, uh, but everyone else is a, an advisor with a soon to be three, a of the women being a client facing, uh, advisors and two of the men, uh, one is, is kind of on the rise as it relates to a, to that. So that's, that's the makeup of our firm. And uh, though we're, we're located, uh, uh, locally, we, we work, um, in some ways I could say globally, but we have clients all over the country, uh, technology definitely affords us to be able to do that
Rianka: 11:35 Oh yeah, I'm a huge fan of technology. Yeah. Yeah. And so do you think, so your model is very different, like you don't hear too many fee only firms saying that they are hourly. And do you find that flexibility in your fee structure a is attractive to women? Not necessarily as clients, but as women who work for the firm?
Mark B.: 11:59 Yeah, I think so because, uh, in, in, in the way that we structure things as, as a firm, we set clear expectations collaboratively. We with each person as to, to, to what we're hoping to see from them from a time perspective over the course of a year, uh, but how they accomplish that is on their own. And so, uh, we uh, offer total flexibility as far as their schedule is concerned. So if they need to come in late or leave early or a leave at half, halfway through the day and then come back in the evening, it's, it's truly up to them as to how they manage their schedule. And so
Rianka: 12:45 Sorry, listeners, you don't see me right now, but my eyes are just like, what? And it's because, and I don't mean to stop you, but again, like that's brilliant. And I, we are professionals, right? We're going to do our job, we have a client load, um, we have meetings that are on our calendar and we're going to do it. So it's like, how did you get there? How did you get to a point where you're just like, yeah, we are. We allow flexible hours, work hours. That's of course very beneficial for women, but I'm sure beneficial for men as well. How did you get there?
Mark B.: 13:24 No particular brilliance on my part, I'll assure you, but uh, we were really intentional on hiring people smarter than us and that we trust implicitly and if we don't trust them, they really shouldn't be on the team. And so if they are on the team, that means we do trust them and we can give that kind of guidance and let them, let them thrive and that that is what we have seen in our environment and that goes to another, a comment I made on the panel, which is we have, we have a no set vacation policy so they can take as much or as little as they want. We don't track it. Uh, and we do that again because the expectations are clear up front. This is what we're looking at a with you for the course of the year. And it's something that again, we work on collaboratively and it's worked out very well.
Rianka: 14:24 So I've heard of that at some firms. Not a lot, but there's a, like a, we have an open vacation policy.
Mark J.: 14:31 We haven't evolved that far yet.
Rianka: 14:33 Martin J. Is like, not yet, so some firms have an open vacation policy, but really how open is it? And I asked that because there are some people who are just like, yeah, I do have family that live out of the country and I visit them and I can just log in remotely. And some of the comments may be just from speaking with peers are just like, yeah, we have open face, open vacation policy, but I get weird looks when I get back because nobody else wants to take vacations. So I feel like now I can't take vacation because nobody else is. So it's. Yeah, how do you have a culture such that if people want to take it, they take it and if they don't it's their own prerogative.
Mark B.: 15:16 Yeah, I guess it starts with me, right? So I take somewhere between three and six weeks of vacation per year. It's not any specific target or goal that just kind of where I typically fall. So, um, and we're really big on. We've, we've borrowed a Michael Kitces his comment of are turned on the phrase of a work life balance and he uses work life harmony and I like that a whole lot better because there really is no balance when it comes to life and work. Work is a very dominant part so it's not going to be equal from a balance, which is what balance implies
Mark J.: 15:57 like equal because like at our firm, you know, you only work half days and it doesn't matter which 12 hours of the day you choose to work. So
Rianka: 16:07 I'm sure that's true during tax season,
Mark B.: 16:10 but we really like that term harmony. Um, and, and it's finding each person has their own harmony and phases of life. So, you know, Han is there, her kids are now entering high school, they're more autonomous so she can, if she chooses work a little bit more, uh, have a little bit higher target, but when her kids were much younger, she's been with us for over 10 years. She had a lot of parties that she had to run out to at their third or fourth grade class for Valentine's or whatever. And she was a, a room mom periodically and that was great. We loved it. And, and I think part of having an, an open vacation policy is, it needs to be, it needs to be encouraged, it needs to be celebrated as opposed to frowned on and you know, what are you doing? Uh, and that's really the posture that we try to take because we, we believe that vacation actually helps our people
Rianka: 17:08 Absolutely.
Mark B.: 17:09 It recharges them, re-energizes them and makes them better as teammates as well as a in serving our clients. So yeah, we, we just have not seen anybody abuse it because again, there's that culture of trust.
Mark J.: 17:25 Well, and if you look at one of the, one, two or three reasons why maybe this 23 percent needle hasn't moved, one of them is this work life balance or as you say, work life harmony, um, where women just basically in the past, especially with the way the profession emerged and it was kind of an eat what you kill and commission based business that the juice or the sacrifice wasn't worth the effort with. And there was no clear path, right. And so being a professional and understanding what the objectives are and what's in front of you and what you need to do at that offers that work life balance. Right. And why it's become such a really important part of, of what we do with within the firm.
Rianka: 18:01 Yeah. Um, we had an episode last season with Katie Augsburger it was phenomenal. It was both episodes eight and nine. Like our conversation was so good we need it to like, alright, let's continue this. And it was talking about putting the woman at the center, like when you're thinking about employee benefits packages, um, when you're thinking about maternity or paternity leave, when you're thinking about the office structure and putting the most, um, I guess marginalized gender, so to say I'm in the center and creating support around her, it will be better off or the firms will be better off, um, as a whole. Like because the men will reap the benefits as well. Um, so what do you all think about that as far as just redefining our employee benefits package and making sure that we actually do have maternity and paternity benefits. So going back to the open vacation policy, actually encouraging men to take their paternity leave,
Mark J.: 19:10 right? I still hear it from my wife that I didn't take full advantage. There actually wasn't a paternity policy at the time and you know, that wasn't something that I felt comfortable doing at the time that certainly after my second child was born back in 2002, um, and I still hear about it and for good reason. Right? But, uh, but no, I mean I think your point is a great one in something that you know, that we even do is it's, goes a little bit beyond this, you know, we have in the office and for some time now we've had a chill room and it can at times it's very zen like with music and candles and a, uh, a massage chair and had an encouragement to take break in the day. Uh, but what's been interesting, especially with the women who are returning back to work after having had their child coming off of maternity leave, the number of women who've used that to continue to pump because they're still breastfeeding and to make that available and that it was acceptable. Um, you know, it was just another one of those points to how can you create that environment that's flexible. Right, right.
Rianka: 20:16 Yeah. And I think that adds to the point of retention as well, um, because I mean, I don't know, I mean we're still trying to do the research around it, but if the number of women has remained the same for the past 14 years, 23 percent, like what's happening,
Mark J.: 20:32 the number of the number of certificates so, or CFP professionals has greatly increased. So the pure number of women in the profession is huge, even though the percentage relative to men as a grown-up, but I think it's worth at least pointing that too.
Rianka: 20:47 Absolutely. No, absolutely. So there are women coming into the profession, but there's also women leaving. And so, um, you know, just, I think that's one of the ways from when we go off and we expand our family and wanting to come back, but being able to come back in a timely manner that doesn't feel rushed, rushed to our body, rushed to our minds, I mean it's a whole human being coming out of us, you know, and that, you know, it does something to your body and it's something that you have to, um, kind of as a healing process and sometimes it feels rushed. So I'm encouraging all firms. Um, you know, sometimes it's the really small RIA firms where you don't necessarily have to have a maternity or paternity leave because of, you know, they're not 50 employees or more. So, you know, it's more so of like you have to work triple overtime in order to build up enough time to even have six weeks off. So to, you know, to actually put that in place. I think that will be an encouraging way of showing women and men who wants to support their wives.
Mark J.: 21:55 They're also making it easy, making it easy to, um, you know, we don't want to take our work lives home, right. But on those days, you know, especially in DC, we run into serious traffic difficulties or weather or whatever and we've equipped everybody to be able to work from home and that it's okay. I just got it, you know, while we were on our panel, I get pinged by, uh, by my operation specialist and she said, working from home on this day, just the way it works. Right. And especially, you know, as kids are being raised in being able to be more accommodative, kind of like what Mark B. pointed out earlier. Yeah.
Rianka: 22:31 So I know it's been a very long day. I have one more question to ask before I let you go. Um, and it was, it was actually a point raised by one of the audience members. I thought it was really good and hopefully I can, you know, explain it as well as he did, but um, how do we make sure the gender wage gap does not continue to grow? And women typically do not ask for more, uh, women typically do not raise their hand for promotions. Women typically, if, if it's time for a annual raises, we usually just say, okay, instead of honestly we're probably not happy about it, but we're not going to go back and say, well actually I want to talk about this and, you know, come back versus men, men do it, you know, um, and so, and they'll probably get it as well. And so how, how can we make sure that the gender wage gap does not continue to increase in, like, what are you doing internally to make sure of this?
Mark J.: 23:33 Yeah. So I'd say there's at least two and maybe a third, but the, uh, the two very tangible ones are, I think the, uh, the career path, it's very well defined. I think it's important to mention because, you know, for our professional staff at every level, whether it's financial planning, tax, portfolio management, or even in the operation side of the business, we have a one pager that says what to take to get into the job. What's it take? What are you going to do? While you're, while you're in the job and then what's it take to get out and for each of those on a separate, you know, a one pager we have for each of the different roles within the firm, here's the ranges of salary and here's the opportunity for bonus and it's very transparent and it's, it's out there, right? So that's
Rianka: 24:20 So your salaries are transparent. Their, yeah, their ranges,
Mark J.: 24:23 their ranges, but says if
Mark J.: 24:24 if you're a director, you're going to, your range is between this and this and your bonus every year is the maximum bonuses, 20 or 25 percent, whatever the number is a, but it's out there that everybody has. Right? So that's, that's part one. Part two is an active mentoring program that we have and encourage within the firm to meet either quarterly or semiannually with your mentor and mentee. And that provides a real opportunity. You know, we kind of take it, we have 11 different service teams on the relationship management side. So I encourage you to move off of your team and meet somebody and you can pick and no one assigns it. So that's another opportunity for, you know, whether it's women talking to women or women or men talking to men and, you know, whatever shakes out, but to ask those types of questions, how can I feel empowered or how can I advocate better for myself when it comes to this?
Mark J.: 25:17 And um, you know, I think those are two really very tangible. And then the other, the other thing is, and this is something that we all should remember that is there is a talent shortage so no one should really feel like they shouldn't step up and say, Hey, I think I'm worth this. Right? And also, you know, not that I'm going to advocate for people to leave the firms they're with, but if they're not getting what they want on a variety of different levels, including their transparency and what their income will be, there's a lot of market out there for you. And I would say that that's kind of last resort, but certainly, you know, and that's, that's what I want at the top. I didn't answer that during the panel. But, you know, this notion of this talent shortage puts the employer in a perspective of, Hey, I've got to be really good and at the top of my game, and even if it's not asked, why aren't I pushing up? You've got to be cognizant of conversations that might be going around at the different levels within the firm.
Rianka: 26:20 Absolutely. And it happens. It happens for sure.
Mark J.: 26:23 Love this new geico commercial with the little ferret so you know, that so and so broke up with so and so and it's all around the office knows.
Rianka: 26:30 And that's kinda what happened when that's what's happening in our firms, you know, um, we uh, are very, I know my generation, we were very open. Um, we care, we share, uh, and so I don't know if we're sharing exact salaries, but, you know, I think it's an important discussion to have. What about you Mark B.?
Mark B.: 26:52 Yeah, I think that, uh, unfortunately the conversation usually stops with salary and or salary and bonus. And to me a compensation is a very broad topic. Uh, so when we are talking as partners or we're talking with the group as a whole to try to get a, uh, a fix of, of what is really valuable to them. And you know, we talked about the flexibility of the schedule. That's a huge benefit that has been sometimes money can't buy. Yeah, exactly. And, and you go beyond that and we have um, health club benefit. So we give $150 a month to all of our employees. So incentive, but only if they use it like they have to actually go to at and yeah. So, um, because we value their work life harmony and we want to make sure that they're keeping themselves in, in, in good health and you know, we want it to be like a family, a membership, for example.
Mark B.: 27:58 Uh, we also have a, uh, a person that we make available that, um, uh, is a counselor. And so I was just talking to one of my colleagues a few days ago and she was just so grateful because she's been, um, uh, connecting with this person once a month and it's just as she's worked through certain circumstances in your life is really valuable for her and that's a company paid benefit. So it's not just, you know, to me we have the scales and we have the job tracks and all that, but a lot of our employees are, they're a lot younger than I am a. So most of them are the twenties or early thirties. And so I've, I've just found that, that, that generation really values us looking at them as a whole person, not just as a salary and not just as an income producer. Um, so that's really been a focal point for us. And I found that from, you know, as it related to the topic of the panel, we didn't really get a chance to talk about this as far as winning the battle for a, for female talents. I've found that looking at things a little bit more broadly,
Mark B.: 29:17 it actually may even result to less total compensation, but a far happier person because we're, we're touching on a lot of points of life as opposed to just what hits their checking account once a month.
Mark J.: 29:32 Yeah. And you touched on it before about, uh, the professional atmosphere that you know, that you kind of work in, but you know, it really is kind of creating a family friendly environment.
Mark J.: 29:42 Right? And making that a, you know, having the opportunity to find your place and living by a set of core values and um, and just invaluable, you know, I kind of focused, I could have because of the way the question was asked, I kind of focused there. But um, you know, all of those things that you're mentioning are so important to creating a great atmosphere and culture. They need to promote the culture. You need to give people the opportunity to grow professionally. You want to push them out and have them stretch and do things like volunteer at FPA or whatever it is. The organizations they want to be involved in. And even if it's running your local, you know, little league or whatever it is, and being able to give people the space to do that and then come back and be ready to work. It's kind of goes with your vacation policy.
Mark J.: 30:27 You can ditch this out. We had talked just a little bit about, uh, the things happening at the CFP board of Center for financial planning. And you'd asked me to kind of remind you about that and
Rianka: 30:38 definitely share with the listeners what's happening. Yeah. So there's some really cool stuff happening and you know, full disclosure and transparency. I am on the, um, on the campaign development committee. So I'm not gonna ask you for anything, just let you know of all the things that are going on out there because, um, this goes back to 2014, the creation of the center and some of the primary goals involve diversity and inclusivity. And so, you know, one of the first ones that kinda came online was this women's initiative, which was, um, it was a program created a and key partnerships and engagement opportunities were put out there to help educate women either coming into the workforce or even down at the high school level to say here are the opportunities in financial planning, right?
Mark J.: 31:31 And that didn't exist 10 years ago, right there and what opportunities even exists and who even would think to become a financial planner coming out of high school. So that was one. And then this great a mentorship program, which if your firm's not large enough to have a mentorship program, you know, like we have, um, the win win mentoring program mentorship program currently has like 1600 engagements a in helping women on the path to CFP certification. So CFP, you can find all of this at the CFP board, a website and
Rianka: 32:05 I'll make sure I'll put it in the show notes
Mark J.: 32:07 specifically, you know, the center for financial planning. But then two other really cool things that are going on is the financial planning re-entry initiative, which is basically an internship program in conjunction with I relaunch out of Boston. It's designed to help professionals who've taken a career break to reenter the workforce. Right. And uh, it's just entering its second cohort and the success was absolutely phenomenal. The number of interns retained and hired by the firms that did it. It's not without cost for the firms, but some of the, there's a, there's a big firm element and then there's a smaller firm element and we've just actually just become one of the firms that are in the, in the cohort and very excited about that and getting started and learning from I relaunch how to do this. Right.
Rianka: 32:54 So you mentioned a reentry. So I want you to define that just a little bit more just in case you know, the listeners are like, what is re-entry? What does that mean?
Mark J.: 33:04 Yeah. So without stereotyping, let's talk back to the mom that you talked about now had chosen instead of work life issues, you know, kind of working and raising a child, decided to take time off from their work. And so a career break, if you will, regardless of the reasons for that career break re-entry is helping them come back to the workforce in a professional capacity versus having to go to work as a secretary or administrative person. Right. And so I relaunch is an organization out of Boston. A lot of the work has been done kind of in the high tech community and a really phenomenal program that they have, but the uh, the reentering the workforce is uh, you know, when they, when they ran the first cohort, the average woman that came through it had 10 years of pre break work experience in a professional capacity.
Rianka: 34:04 Wow.
Mark J.: 34:04 And so, you know, we have had some of our greatest success and you know, long-term employees have come post break. And so we're excited to be part of this program. And then the final thing that I mentioned, which was on it's, kind of looking more towards a racial diversity instead of gender diversity. And on October 23rd in New York City, uh, the, uh, the center is hosting first ever diversity summit and the idea about that is to engage leaders within and outside the profession is to discuss solutions and increased racial and ethnic diversity among the financial planning community because you take that 23 percent for women and it's like three percent less than three percent, right? So there's already 350 people that have signed up and the list of speakers from both inside the profession and out or phenomenon. It's a, you know, you kinda said it before I, I like to use the term, you know, it's an old Billy Joel Song at that said we didn't start the fire but we got it.
Mark J.: 35:08 We kept it burning right. Same way with FPA and fiduciary, right. We didn't start the fiduciary thing, but when we sued SCC, that was all about, to me it was now we didn't start it because it had been around a long time. But we fanned the flames and we helped move the profession forward and it's events like this that can do, can do that and get the conversation started and even panels like this so there's a lot of work to be done, but certainly that the conversations are happening and that people will step up and help and get involved and know that they're safe
Mark J.: 35:38 and able to, to do it without recourse. It's a cool.
Rianka: 35:41 Absolutely. And, you know, stepping up and speaking up this, what it means to be an ally, you know, that active engagement. Um not, isn't that just a person is, you know, it's not a now it's a, it's a verb of the act of practice. So I want to thank both of you for your time. Mark B.. I want it to see if you had any last words for us before, before I let you go.
Rianka: 36:05 Enjoy the rest of the conference.
Mark B.: 36:07 Thank you. Um, well, I, I would just urge, uh, you know, as we were preparing for the, uh, the panel, uh, this, this little phrase kept coming through, over and over the, uh, a male and pale, stale, pale, male. And stale, male, and pale, our target audience and a Mark and I would, would in some ways fit that category. Um, but that's really, if, if, if this message is only going to those that already agree with us, then we have not accomplished anything. If, uh, if there are those in your listenership that um, maybe this is a new concept for them that you're the one that we're trying to speak to to say, um, take a risk. And what you'll find is it wasn't a risk, it was actually the best decision you made. And so that would be my encouragement, is like a team. You don't want to have a team of all receivers or all quarterbacks or all running backs. That's not going to be an effective team. You need to have a well balanced blended team and you'll find you'll have the greatest success. And that's, that would be my encouragement to your listenership.
Rianka: 37:23 Thank you. Thank you so much for both of your time today and I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference. Thank you.
Mark B.: 37:30 Thank you.
Mark J.: 37:30 Thank you.