MASTERCLASS: Women in Investing
- 53 mins 04 secs
We've seen a lot of positive progress towards diversity, equity, and inclusion, but the financial services industry is still far from parity. An asset manager and two execs from two of the top RIAs in the U.S. discuss the evolution of ESG, the many ways that women are changing the landscape, and the future of diversity, equity and inclusion.Channel: MASTERCLASS
- Indya Yuill, Partner, Managing Director, Beacon Pointe Advisors
- Elizabeth Levy, CFA® Head of ESG Strategy, Portfolio Manager, Trillium Asset Management
- Terri Kallsen, CFP ®, Chief Operations Officer, Wealth Enhancement Group
Jenna Dagenhart: Hello, and welcome to this special Asset TV masterclass focused on women in investing. We'll cover the evolution of ESG, the many ways that women are making their marks on the financial services' industry and the future of diversity, equity and inclusion. Now it's an honor to introduce our panelists Elizabeth Levy, head of ESG strategy and portfolio manager at Trillium Asset Management, Terri Kallsen, chief operations officer at Wealth Enhancement Group, and Indya Yuill, partner and managing director at Beacon Pointe Advisors. Everyone, thank you so much for being with us. I'd like to start by letting our viewers get to know each of you a little bit better. Terri, how would you describe your journey to becoming an exec at one of the top RIA firms in the country?
Terri Kallsen: Well, I would call it a journey, Jenna. It has been an exciting adventurous journey. I started out an undergrad in a STEM major and so analytics and math was very exciting for me. My first job out of college was at 3M in St. Paul, working in innovation. And then I realized that research wasn't enough about people, so I changed fields pretty dramatically. And at that age, it wasn't as common to change fields as it was today, but I started to move towards financial analysis and went to grad school at that point. And then was hired by a firm called Thrivent Financial and really learned to become a certified financial planner, worked very closely with clients and then eventually led the financial planning area at USAA, serving our amazing and honorable military and their families, and then went to Schwab. Private Client led the private client group, the ultra high-net worth group, and then led Schwab Retail.
Terri Kallsen: At that point, I felt like I really have achieved a lot in this particular industry, and so I took a year off, actually. It was really a great year. I have three children, a husband of 30 years, and then went to work for Wealth Enhancement Group, which is just a growing thriving RIA. And we really focus on planning and doing the right thing for the client. And this is such a high growth in area, and so at Wealth Enhancement Group, it is really my honor to be the chief operations officer, and really serve our clients in the way that they want to be served. And so I've worked for public companies, I've worked for private companies, and now I work for this thriving RIA industry, which I believe is the best for clients. So very excited to be with you here today.
Jenna Dagenhart: And Liz, I'd love to hear a little bit more about your experience over the years in financial services. I know you didn't urgently intend to go into financial services.
Elizabeth Levy: Yeah, I was going to say I also had quite a journey that also began with a STEM undergrad degree in science. So when I finished college, I didn't quite know what I wanted to do, but I was faced with looking at climate change and other environmental problems and thinking they were just such an important problem that we were all faced with. So I showed up at graduate school to study environmental studies, knowing that companies had had a hand in causing all of the major environmental problems and they were going to be important in cleaning them up. And through that, I found the idea of using the capital market as a lever to cause environmental change and improvement. And then that has really been the path for me.
Elizabeth Levy: So I started my career doing what we would now call ESG analysis at a small investment firm. And when I was there really digging into the environmental performance and attributes of the companies we invested in, I was fortunate to have a great boss and mentor who said, "Liz, you keep making unnecessarily complex spreadsheets, I think you're pretty quantitative. Do you maybe want to try out the fundamental financial side?" So with that encouragement, I studied and got my CFA and have been moving into the nexus of both the fundamental, as well as the ESG for the rest of my career.
Elizabeth Levy: So I've been at Trillium for about decade now. We were one of the earliest firms doing what we now call ESG, that's all of what we focus on, and we have really been bridging the difference between... Well, our mission really is to invest for a better world. So that's what we've been working on. And as the head of ESG strategy, I'm helping us think about how we might evolve with the new paradigm of ESG investing.
Jenna Dagenhart: And Indya, I know ESG is very central to Beacon Pointe as well, and we'll talk about that in a moment. But first in addition to being ranked one of the top registered investment advisors in the country by Baron, Beacon Pointe is a female-led, female-founded firm, how did you get to where you are today? I know it's also a bit of a roundabout journey.
Indya Yuill: Yeah, thanks Jenna. Like Terri and Liz, I didn't start out in the wealth advisory track. I think part of that is because it wasn't really marketed as a career path, frankly, for me. I always had a knack for numbers, I went to University of Southern California, I studied business with an emphasis on finance, and along the way it was suggested to me that investment banking would be a good path. So I took a job out of school at investment banking, and I spent the next decade navigating the investment world, I would say. So private side of that investment banking, trading stocks on the trading floor, managing portfolios. And then I woke up and realized that I had a great investment background and platform, but I really wanted to work with individuals and families. And if I could take that knowledge and help them effectively allocate their capital and their savings and help them invest, that might be a good next step.
Indya Yuill: I got introduced to Beacon Pointe, which as you mentioned, well, we're actually founded and led by our CEO, Shannon Eusey, who's a woman. We've grown a lot over the last 20 years that we've been around, but we still have women in really key leadership roles, which was certainly part of my decision to join the firm. And I think women are really great advisors. I have couple women working for me now and we're more than 50% female across the country. Men are great advisors too, but women, it does require the knowledge of numbers and of investments to work with clients, but it also is such a role of listening and reading between the lines and being able to dig into a client's specific situation. So it's been a great transition for me and certainly feel fortunate to have landed where I have.
Jenna Dagenhart: And Liz, Trillium has been practicing ESG investing for 40 years now, as you said, kind of ESG before it was ESG, and you have about 20 years of experience in this space. How have the ESG investment themes evolved over this time?
Elizabeth Levy: Yeah, it's changed quite dramatically over that longer timeframe, and then even more dramatically specifically over the last few years. So for many years at the beginning of my career, ESG or socially-responsible investing, as we called it back then, was seen as not real or not serious. So I would attend many investment meetings or conferences for years where I was the only one asking questions about climate change, for example. And as an aside, I was frequently the only woman in a room, even in large groups. And so I kind of had two strikes against me and that's part of why I pursued my CFA so that I could be taken seriously as a real investor.
Elizabeth Levy: Things have changed a lot since then. So now the idea of ESG information mattering in investments, is not so much... We don't need to prove that anymore. I would say in the early days, we were often asked, well, why are you doing this? Why are you asking questions about this information? And now folks really understand that ESG issues do matter. So the questions that are important now are really more, what kind of ESG are you doing? And what do you mean by ESG? And the difference between impact and ESG.
Elizabeth Levy: So we're not needing to prove anymore that what we're doing is worthwhile, but we're asked to prove how we're doing it, and it's really been such a change. And so I think that is one of the biggest challenges for us now as the ESG industry is really to be clear about what we mean and what we're doing, especially so that clients can understand and clients can understand what flavor of ESG they're getting and what are we doing on their behalf and what can they expect from us.
Jenna Dagenhart: Indya, how are you integrating environmental, social governance factors into your investment process at Beacon Pointe?
Indya Yuill: Yeah, it's definitely a space that's evolving rapidly. We're not only... Historically, we had been working with clients to exclude areas from their portfolio that didn't align with their values, and now we are able to really focus on the areas that do align with their values and tilt the portfolio towards that. So it's a more inclusionary approach in terms of allocating their capital to the spaces that they want to support and that they want to invest in. We are constantly seeking ways to improve our process and to make sure that our managers and partners in the space are evolving and doing the best job possible for our clients.
Indya Yuill: One area that we're spending a lot of time and focus on, and our chief investment officer would tell you is the holy grail of alternative investing is in the private space, and so alternatives and more private investments. If you think about these green type of investments, they take time to drive us towards a more sustainable economy. And so whether you're talking about infrastructure projects or water projects, if our clients can be private investors in these specific projects and they have the time horizon to be able to do that, we think it can not only be very lucrative for the clients, but also truly drive us towards that more sustainable economy. So in the private market, the alternative space, that is definitely where we're focusing a lot of our efforts at the moment.
Jenna Dagenhart: Terri, turning to you, how is Wealth Enhancement Group prioritizing ESG goals, such as, but not limited to diversity, equity and inclusion?
Terri Kallsen: Yeah, you bet. And I just want to punctuate Indya's comments around, this is a growing and evolving space. And I'm not sure anyone has fully arrived yet, but we aspirationally want to do what's right for the client, as well as help grow their portfolio and do the right thing for society, and obviously at the climate. And I just have one little short aside that I want to share with you. I mentioned earlier, I have three children, and my youngest is a senior in high school. And she is an economics theme, she loves economics. And my first two weren't so pro-business, I don't know, maybe it's because they saw mom working so hard and stressed out, I don't know, but my third is absolutely into investing in economics. And she called me yesterday, I happened to be on the road for business and she's in her economics class and they are starting an investment club where by the end of April, whoever achieves the highest performance they win. And she told her friend in the classroom, "Hey, this is what my mom does all day, I'm going to win this contest."
Terri Kallsen: Well, the reality is I said, "Listen, Sarah." She's 17, "Two months is not going to make or break any investment portfolio." And that's actually the wrong way to look about it. It's about the long-term as both Liz and Indya said. But we talked a lot about investing in stocks. And this isn't the first time, I've had these conversations with all three of my kids, but finally the pinnacle with my relationship with my daughter is she is so excited about this investment contest. But what did we talk about because she's 17? She talked about ESG, which is different than my other children per se. And so the importance of investing in a very social responsible way.
Terri Kallsen: And so we got to talk about this at a very personal family level and what we're doing as a family to support long-term investing in ESG, as well as what she can do for the next couple months in her conversation with her classmates and her teacher. So I'll let you know what happens by the end of April in terms of, does she win the contest or not? That'll bring back your viewers, I am sure. But what we really, really want to talk about is ESG as a whole.
Terri Kallsen: And so at Wealth Enhancement Group, one of the things we're working with very closely is our custodians and really working on direct indexing, which direct indexing gives us the power to pick and choose and customize portfolios based on our ESG principles. And we're working on this with our clients, as well as our advisor team so that we can not only pick what is right for the future based on ESG, but also deselect those things that they are not interested. And doing that at scale is so important. So we're working with our custodians to make that happen, and clients are thrilled because they get to learn about the various portions of their portfolio, but they get to customize it based on what their needs are.
Terri Kallsen: And that's what I talk about for the growing evolving space, is that more and more of this customization will be required. We went from ETFs of various sleeves and various portfolios to now customization of that process in a very scalable, very unique, very personalized way, and Wealth Enhancement Group is very excited of out that capability.
Jenna Dagenhart: And one of the major ESG issues right now is the environment. Liz, I know your first passion was in environmental sciences. What's the role of capital and addressing the challenge of climate change. And how does Trillium's commitment to net zero factor into your investment process?
Elizabeth Levy: Yeah, well, when we think about climate change and the change in climate, it's already here and it's already happening, but in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change in the future, as well as we're now learning to reduce geopolitical tensions over fossil fuels, all of human society needs to transition from fossil fuels to renewables as quickly as possible. So what does that mean to investors? Well, it's going to take a lot of money to do this, a lot is going to need to be invested in the energy transition and the sooner the better. So as investors, we can direct our capitals to the companies that are actually making the transition, companies that are providing renewable energy, capital equipment, those that are buying it, and those that are changing their own business models.
Elizabeth Levy: And similar to the way that Indya mentioned, her clients are investing in private equities and direct projects, we can do that on the public equity side as well. So that's really the heart of our net zero commitment at Trillium, when we signed on to the net zero asset managers initiative. It's really us thinking that we want to align our clients' portfolios with the companies that are best-positioned for the future. So when we're making investment decisions, when we're deciding which kinds of companies that we want to invest in, we're thinking about, how are they aligning for their future? Are they thinking that their current environment is going to continue forever? Are they thinking about how the climate might physically change where their operations are? Are they trying to change their own energy purchases to shift to more renewable sources?
Elizabeth Levy: So we're thinking about that upfront as we make investment decisions, but at the same time, engagement or shareholder advocacy has always been a key part of what Trillium does for our clients. So we're able to work with the companies that we invest in, demonstrate to them why dealing with their emissions profile now and making plans for changing climate now for their own net zero journey is worth it. And we've had some great successes with companies making these two changes and we're doing it with a lot of other investors as well. But we feel that this commitment that we've made is really important for us to demonstrate that we are walking the talk as well for our own clients.
Jenna Dagenhart: And to quickly follow-up on something you said earlier, Liz, about Russia and the situation with Ukraine, how is that illuminating this transition to net zero and the world's dependency on fossil fuels?
Elizabeth Levy: Well, we've all been hearing a lot about, will Russian oil and gas be exempted from the sanctions that are placed on them? Hearing a lot about, what will be the abilities of countries, specifically European countries to respond, given their reliance on Russian natural gas in particular? So all of this is really calling out what environmentalists have been saying for decades, but is even more true now that in many cases, most cases, renewable energy is cheaper, it's less expensive than reliance on fossil fuels. And the sun is going to shine, the wind is going to blow, we're developing new, better, cheaper battery technologies.
Elizabeth Levy: So having countries be self-reliant will really help them not be reliant, for example, in this particular case. So glaring right now on imported natural gas, and it's really going to have the two benefits of halting the extreme damage to our climate, as well as letting countries be more in charge of their own national policies and security, really.
Terri Kallsen: Liz, do you think that'll help us all out here in California pay less than $5 for a gallon of gasoline?
Elizabeth Levy: Tomorrow? No. But eventually, yeah. It's been fascinating as a person who has studied these things for a long time, that the amount of chatter and talk about this in the last week, the few weeks leading up to it, how much the context has really changed with the acknowledgement that we actually do have a way to prevent this particular situation from happening again and more and more electric vehicles are coming all the time. And yeah, we've got different markets in the US and you and California have expensive gas, we have expensive energy here in the Northeast as well. So I think it's going to help all of us in the long run.
Terri Kallsen: Agreed.
Jenna Dagenhart: And unfortunately we've seen the devastating impacts of climate change firsthand in places all around the world, but especially California in recent years. Indya, how are you thinking about climate change and the environment over at Beacon Pointe?
Indya Yuill: Yeah, it's a really good question, and it's one where I think capital markets are critical. Capital markets, transcend borders, we are able to help connect investment dollars with companies who are striving for that more sustainable economy. And I think we do need the help of regulators and market operators as we get more buy-in from them, we get more transparency in terms of publicly-traded stocks and their ESG ratings, how they're conducting their businesses. That helps investors to have the information at their fingertips to be able to vote with their feet and support these causes. And these system positive, I'll call them companies, if you will, can attract capital they need to have an impact.
Indya Yuill: And it does in both the public and private spaces. When you do have projects specifically with the intent of reducing carbon emissions and creating a green of world, when you pair that with good quality management, these can be really high-growth businesses and they can be successful investments for our clients. So it comes back to having the access and doing the research to understand how we can best help our investors to allocate their capital in support of the space.
Jenna Dagenhart: And there are so many benefits of ESG, but Liz, could you explain how investors can benefit from ESG investing beyond contributions to positive climate change?
Elizabeth Levy: Well, I think one of them is what Terri mentioned earlier is that ESG is allowing clients and end investors to align their investments with their values. So it's knowing that they are putting their money towards the future that they want to see rather than one that they don't want to see. And I think that's a very powerful motivator for all of us, for all of us as individuals and investors. Also, as Indya was just mentioning, ESG information can help lead to better decisions. So the more information we get, the more clarity, the more transparency. And I agree that having some regulatory pressure and clarity will definitely help with that. It will allow all of us to make better investment decisions as investment professionals.
Elizabeth Levy: And then again, as I mentioned earlier, that we find that engagement leads to better outcomes and better performance, the companies that we invest in and when we can indicate to them, we think this is how the world is changing, we think here are some future issues you need to be aware of, that, that can really help them. And I'll give one quick example if you don't mind. So for many years, Trillium had been asking companies to disclose the data that they collect in the US and give equal employment opportunity commission, their EEO-1 data. So that's information about the composition of their workforce that they've been compiling and telling the government for years. Many of them did not, and still many do not make that information public. And so we had been engaging with companies for years, asking them to disclose this information to us.
Elizabeth Levy: Well then 2020 hit, and all of a sudden, many other people were asking for the same information. And we believe that the companies we've been engaging with on this topic for years were in better position to answer those questions as they started all at the same time. So that's just one example of how we think that our ESG orientation and ESG data provided to of the market broadly can make better decisions for all of us.
Jenna Dagenhart: And these contributions to ESG have been a global effort from everyone, although some might say that women have especially helped move the needle when it comes to ESG. I want to go around the room and just ask everyone, how are you seeing women changing the investment landscape and the financial services' industry, whether it's ESG or other contributions? Indya, do you want to kick us off there?
Indya Yuill: Yeah, sure, absolutely. Professional women in financial services are certainly changing the landscape with regards to the questions that we ask, how we do financial planning for our clients, the different goals and values side of things that we dig into that perhaps were not focused before. And it does impact the way that we're providing advice, the way that we're doing planning and the way that we're investing for clients. So I think, women to your point, do have a role to play and have played a role in that. But also having our female clients at the table and in our offices is changing the landscape too. In 2011, Beacon Pointe started the Women's Advisory Institute, and with the goal of bringing women to the table and providing education and resources for them in the personal finance discussion
Indya Yuill: And the industry thought our efforts were futile. Like this isn't something that's needed or wanted across the industry. And we've seen a change in our clients, even just many of our female clients are head of household and are running the financial discussion. But those who historically were not even just having them show up to meetings or events or getting them inside of our office, helps in the dialogue, even just for them to understand where information can be found and how things are set up and have some sort of confidence and control over the family finances, should they be in a position to have to take control over that. So I would say it's been in our DNA to understand both the female employee, if you will, but also our female clients, and it's certainly, I think, moving things in a direction of inclusion and just social responsibility.
Jenna Dagenhart: Terri, I see you nodding your head.
Terri Kallsen: Yeah. I just want to continue to punctuate what Indya and Liz have said. In the demographics, in the United States and even worldwide, 70% of women are making the primary financial decisions, period. Be it in single households, family households, various partner households, women are in the position to make these important financial decisions. And so we, as a whole are working with holistic financial planning to make sure that the woman's voice is heard and continue to follow through on.
Terri Kallsen: So when we do financial planning, we have both partners there, sharing what their hopes and dreams are for the future, and then bringing those together to make sure that where there's gaps, we address those. And when there's synergies, we make sure we continue to follow through on those. And that is such an important component. And women are making its decisions overall, not only in their families, in their households, but in businesses all over the country. And so that's one of the areas that I believe we collaborate very well, we share ideas. It's not about ego with us, it's about, how do we do even better? And so we facilitate that conversation among women and their spouses and partners so that they get to the very best outcomes. And that's what's most important to us, is that we hear all the voices, we work with all the voices and we move those voices forward.
Jenna Dagenhart: And Liz, what about you? I know, particularly in the ESG world, I've had the pleasure of hosting all-female panels there before, including some of your colleagues, how would you say women are changing the investment landscape in ESG and beyond?
Elizabeth Levy: Yeah, I would say in ESG in particular, many of the founders of the early ESG and socially-responsible investment firms, including my own Trillium, were founded by women. So it really was baked into the DNA of ESG, if you will, pardon too many acronyms there. And I would say that one of the things that attracted me to Trillium the most is our collaborative nature. So as Terri mentioned, we work well in teams and we collaborate well together. So as a portfolio manager, we have teams on each of the strategies. So one person will be in charge, but we have a supporting team that we really rely on. My team happens to be all women, not all of them are at our firm, but we work very well together. And I've really listened to my team.
Elizabeth Levy: Sometimes I have great ideas for trades I want to do, but I've had some bad ideas too. And I really trust and rely on my team. And so when they say to me like, "Liz, that wasn't the best idea you've had." I listen to them. And they've talked me out of some bad ideas and I've talked to them into some good ideas as well on their products. And so I really think that we are seeing the benefit of the collaborative nature. We've all, or at least I have, because it relates to me, seen the statistics that women are good portfolio managers. We have a lot of high degree of success, but we're not given that opportunity very often. So I'm really pleased that in the ESG industry as a whole, and at my firm, that we are able to offer that, both to women to give us that opportunity, but also to our clients who benefit from having us in the room leading discussions.
Jenna Dagenhart: Yeah, women are great portfolio managers. And we talk so much about the diversification of assets, but highest diversity of thought, also a crucial part of the investment process. Terri, do you want to kick us off with that one?
Terri Kallsen: Well at the end of the day, as a leader at a firm, you want to make sure you're creating an environment where everyone feels like they have a very valued place at the table. And I like to think about is the tapestry of the team, that we're all woven together as a team to be able to share ideas, to be able to advance the team goals, no one individual. And you've all heard this before, but there is no "I" in team. And so when you have diverse thought at the table through life experiences, through various different genders, different ethnic backgrounds, different racial backgrounds, you just tend to get better outcomes. And it takes a leader with patience, empathy, understanding, and most importantly, humility.
Terri Kallsen: I think humility is the real secret to getting the very best out of every individual to become a team. And it is a humble leader that can hear, like Liz said, "Liz, yeah, that idea wasn't right on." And for Liz to go, "Yeah, you're right, it wasn't my best idea, but I'm still going. I'm still moving forward. I'm persevering with this team." And that is the joy of working truly as a team. And I do think female leaders, naturally do that, even in our industry.
Terri Kallsen: I've had the humility beaten into me, I'll just say that. Not in a beaten way, but we become humble because our ideas aren't always embraced. And so we have to persevere, we have to move forward, we have to support and advocate for various diverse ideas, so that those can bubble up to the top, and we can truly achieve the very best outcome. And I can tell you at Wealth Enhancement Group, after the year of what we've had with the number of acquisitions and growth strategies that we've had, we've had to share various growth ideas to be able to get to the table, and there has been an embracing of ideas to be able to move forward. And it takes a very special leader to be able to achieve that.
Jenna Dagenhart: Indya, would you like to follow up?
Indya Yuill: Yeah, sure. I wholeheartedly believe as Terri says. And I think in the wealth advisory industry, any investment industry in general, diversity of thought not only drives innovation. You have a lot of different people asking why, and if they have the ability and the seat at the table to have an input on how things are done, you can generally get to a good outcome in all situations. And I think it's the unique background of people, the unique perspectives, different lived experiences.
Indya Yuill: So I was born and raised in Australia, I moved to the US for high school. I have a different world perspective than the person sitting next to me has, and they have their own unique story. So as we can bring that into the conversation, it helps us, first of all, understand our clients better because they all have different lived experiences. But also helps us to be better at managing their investments and at analyzing the investment landscape, and how we plan for them and how we care for their lives, but also their legacies. So I think diversity of thought is something that can be undervalued, but specifically in the advisory world, I think is hugely valuable.
Jenna Dagenhart: Liz, any other examples of this diversity of thought playing out at the asset management role that you'd like to share?
Elizabeth Levy: Yeah, I would agree with what Indya was saying is having the diversity of lived experiences, racial, gender, even age diversity within our investment team, helps us have a fuller picture of the companies that we are deciding to invest in or not invest in. So just giving the variety of inputs and just the different perspective and worldview that we all bring to understand, what are the drivers that are making economic movements happen? And what are some changes and trends that might be coming in the future? I wouldn't assume that with my lived experience would be able to understand everything, and I'm so glad to have a variety of diverse inputs around me. And I think that is one of the main benefits of, as we've all been discussing, the team orientation that we're able to bring.
Jenna Dagenhart: Terri, you mentioned humility, and some of the other attributes that make women strong leaders. What are some of the ways to advance women and diversity and narrow the C-suite gender gap?
Terri Kallsen: Sure. Well first and foremost, it's going to take both men women to make this happen. It's never a woman's initiative or a men's initiative, it's really a leadership initiative. And it's about really having eye on the prize of having parody at the table. And when we you get to parody, I think we can move on to the next big opportunity. There's just always going to be something that we're trying to solve in the area of leadership and corporations and teamwork, because at the end of the day, we're human beings and we all are working together to be able to achieve our full potential.
Terri Kallsen: And so one of the stories I share is very early on in my career, I had the opportunity to be mentored by the sixth highest-ranking women in the fortune top women in the country. And she worked for Kimberly-Clark, she was the chief marketing officer. And she would sit in meetings, she was the only woman. So this was back maybe 20, 25 years ago. She would sit around a large table, and they smoked cigars at the time, she was the only woman at the time. And guess what Kimberly-Clark make, they make Kleenex. They make Huggies diapers, they make feminine hygiene products. And they were all commenting on various marketing campaigns for that one woman in the room. And she had an incredibly strong voice and she advocated for what clients wanted, not for what the room wanted, because she was the eye of the client.
Terri Kallsen: And so in my opinion, one of the most important things we can do as a leadership team to encourage diversity of thought, encourage inclusion of everyone's opinion is to listen to our client base and what our clients are saying because our clients are diverse. No matter what area of this country we're working in right now, our clients are becoming more and more diverse, both visibly and invisibly. And so the more clients input, the more client data that we can use to make our decisions, the better off we'll be in serving those clients and achieving our firm's full potential.
Jenna Dagenhart: I like that. And Liz turning to you, how can the asset management industry attract more visibly as well as invisibly, diverse talent?
Elizabeth Levy: Yeah, I like the way that you frame that, Terri. I think that the fact that we're all talking about it now is one thing. So the fact that we are all making efforts, and maybe I shouldn't speak so broadly, we are all on this call making these efforts is the entire industry. I don't know, but I think that every firm right now is aware of the need to increase diversity and is at least aware of the optics of a very homogenous-looking investment team. They're at least all aware of what we've been saying on this call, about the benefits of diverse teams. Even if they might not buy into it, they're aware that they need to start thinking about it. So I think is that sufficient? No, of course not, but that's a great first step.
Elizabeth Levy: But then I think in terms of when an organization is really serious about increasing diversity, I think one of the things you need to do is demonstrate why and how it's important. So there's a lot of leave service that's paid to, if you want to attract women you have to have a good maternity leave policy. That's great, that's true. I have small children and I don't need maternity leave anymore. I need to be able to stay home with them when they're sick. Well, of course we're all home right now and we have been for a few years, or I am still anyway. But next year when we're all back in the office full-time, which I'm very much looking forward to, if my elementary school-aged daughter is sick, I need to be able to take that time off with her. That's demonstrating truly that my company values having a woman and a mother, in my case beyond just saying, "Oh, here's maternity leave. Done, check, we're all set with women's policies."
Elizabeth Levy: So it's really showing employees how much they are valued and how much the organization is wanting to work with them and to show them their importance, not just for women, for other groups as well. Diversity has more angles than just female. So racial differences as well being sensitive and offering training programs that are real, for example. So not just a one-hour racial-bias training that many companies are providing. And that's great, but it needs to go beyond that so that employees understand both that they're treasured and that they're valued and why, and that the commitment is real. So I think those are just some examples of ways that companies can demonstrate to their employees that they are really sincere in what they're saying about diversity and that they really do recognize the benefits that their diverse workforce provides to them.
Jenna Dagenhart: Those are all great examples. And Indya, what's been your strategy for recruiting more female advisors? When you look at your numbers, you've obviously been very successful at it. And then I also want to ask you kind of an inverted version of that question which is, why don't you think there are enough female advisors in the industry?
Indya Yuill: Yeah, I think the two questions actually go hand-in-hand. We have three senior advisors in the Los Angeles office where I am today and two are women, so I think that helps. I think, have having women in your organization, like just start, that gives the first step, if you will, in hiring additional women and seeing the benefit there. Why aren't more women in the financial services or in the advisory role? I think that comes back to the awareness of this as a career path for women. One thing that we do is market to and offer internships for college-age women to come in and experience the office environment and the world in which we live on a daily basis, and really to consider that if they do have an interest in both the investments, but also planning or just numbers in general, that this might be a good career path for them. So some of that comes back to the awareness, and frankly, the colleges as well in terms of laying out the different career paths that are available for women.
Indya Yuill: And then the other thing I would say is, when you do really strong female talent as Terri had the experience, to mentor that talent. We have a program across the country at Beacon Pointe where we get paired up with future leaders, if you will and there's a woman that I work with and she's phenomenal and she's less than five years into her career, but with some kind of confidence put behind her and some career pathing and encouragement, I think that goes a long way in ensuring that she sticks with it and that she feels valued, and like she has a seat at the table and therefore helps to attract more women like her.
Jenna Dagenhart: And I loved your spreadsheet example earlier, as well, Liz, where your mentor said, "Hey, you're making kind of complex models here." How would you sum up the role of mentorship throughout your career?
Elizabeth Levy: Yeah, it's been so important to me also receiving the mentorship and having the support and folks behind telling me, well, first of all, cheerleading me as Indya was just saying she's doing for her young mentee. Early in my career, having somebody tell me, "I think you can do this. I think you would be good at this, and here's how I'm going to help you do it." That was really important and gave me the confidence boost. And now when I'm working with younger women in our firm, letting them know you that I think what they're working on is interesting. And I think that I want to know what they think about things, and I want their input because their input is valuable. And also trying to help them feel accomplished in their career, and that they're working on things that are important to them as well. So making sure that everybody has the opportunity to work on something that leaves them feeling satisfied.
Elizabeth Levy: I've been joking that some parts of all of our work are like vegetables, we all have to do some of that, but making sure that everybody has some dessert to go along with those vegetables. And so trying to make sure that, especially for the younger folks who are just starting out, it might have more vegetables on their plate, that there is something that they're passionate about and that lets them think, this is why this is the right career for me. I get to work on this very interesting project, something that I'm passionate about. I'm going to stay engaged, I'm going to stay in this career. That's something that's important as well.
Jenna Dagenhart: Yeah, I love that as well. And the next generation is so crucial as we've all been discussing. Terri turning to you, it sounds like your daughter might be a future Asset TV guest at some point, but what tips would you share for the next generation?
Terri Kallsen: Well, I have been so blessed in this career that I have had wonderful mentors, both men and women, and so one of the things that I try to do is give back. And one of my favorite experiences in my career is I went on this, what's called a mentor walk, and I was assigned two young women, recently college graduates that were trying to figure out what their career was, and we walked for a 5k, which is 3.2 miles, I think. And during that time, they identified the type of career they thought they would want to have, and then we matched them up with someone which... So if any of you have a chance to do one of these mentor walks or to design them, they are phenomenal because one, you're getting exercise, two, you're meeting new people, and three, you're actually delivering value for people who might be starting a new career in financial services.
Terri Kallsen: And so I had a chance to talk to two of them and I told them what a career in financial services was like either in investments, wealth management, financial planning, as a CFP. And I shared with them a little bit about the vegetables that Liz talked about. There's some of the short-term pain for the long-term game. And I did, I paid the short-term pain during that time. I took my CFP, I went to grad school, I was working full-time, I had three kids. It was crazy, just absolutely nuts. Now, years later, I'm so grateful I had the energy, stamina and mentors to get there.
Terri Kallsen: And so one of the women that I mentored, I told her about this, she then went into the career in financial services, started in a call center, took her CFP, became an advisor, and is now one of the top advisors at the firm she works with, and is so happy she went through it. And so all I can say is, share the story, share the reality, share the opportunities and be there for them when it's a great time and when it's a challenging time.
Terri Kallsen: Because in any career, you're going to have your ebbs and flows, but in the financial services' industry, as Indya and Liz said, this is an amazing career for women. It's an amazing career for everyone, but because of the opportunity to serve people, help people, help people achieve their goals, have a personal relationship and really enjoy the numbers, the analytics, I couldn't be happier in choosing this almost 30 years later.
Jenna Dagenhart: Indya. What's some advice that you would share for some of the younger financial professionals watching this, as well as maybe some more advanced, more senior financial professionals watching this about ways that they can help each other?
Indya Yuill: Yeah. I like Terri feel very positive about financial services industry and frankly, where we're headed. Employees voices, sorry, are being heard, we're requiring transparency from companies, we're requiring a good experience for the employees and that they improve the demographics of the workplace. So I would encourage younger people to ask questions, and if you land at a place that aligns with your values, it kind of comes back to the ESG investing and putting your feet in a chair that feels good to you in terms of the values of the company. And then get started early, educate yourself. There's so many resources out there, there's great mentorships, but there's also blogs and podcasts and ways that you can advance your knowledge base to help you understand perhaps what area of financial services may speak to you, whether it's the planning side, or maybe you have more interest in the investments as I certainly did coming in. I think using your resources that you have around you, starting early is going to be valuable.
Indya Yuill: We actually have a book that we wrote called Dollars and Sense, written by some of the members of our planning team. It is shorthand for your dollars, our cents, and it's everything you wish you learned in school about personal finance. So if anyone listening is interested, certainly happy to get you a copy of that. And if those topics are of interest, then I think pursuing a career in financial services is certainly something worthwhile.
Jenna Dagenhart: So it sounds like a pretty bright outlook ahead for the future of diversity, equity and inclusion within financial services. Liz, anything you'd like to add there? And then would also love to hear more about your outlook for the future of ESG as well as climate investing.
Elizabeth Levy: Sure. Well, I would just first echo what both Indya and Terri said in that for young folks or even not so young folks that are just starting out, so many people in this industry are so willing to give their time and their experience. So just reach out, ask for informational interviews, but be focused and know what you're asking and have tailored questions so that you can really make the best use of both your time, as well as the time of whoever you're reaching out to. I love participating in those, and I love talking to young folks, college students and reaching grads in particular, they have such energy and enthusiasm and it really enthuses me about what we're all doing. So tying that to ESG, of course, is that many of the folks that I'm talking to are asking about ESG in particular, and I'm so motivated by the enthusiasm as Terri was saying her young daughter asking about ESG questions, that young people today, it's their future, it's their planet, it's their climate that they're going to inherit more so than us.
Elizabeth Levy: And so I am very hopeful based on the passion that they are all bringing and being so serious about incorporating ESG and thinking about climate and really factoring all of this information into their entire lives, but in this case, in particular their investments. And so I don't see the current passion for ESG going anywhere. I think as climate concerns, make themselves felt more broadly, which they are every day, every year. People will continue to think about climate in their investment decisions and ESG information across the board, as well as the values of our clients will only continue to be more important.
Jenna Dagenhart: And you're all overflowing with incredible financial advice, as well as advice for the industry and for younger women out there. I want to end by going around and having everyone share one last piece of advice, maybe the best advice you've ever received with our viewers. Terri, do you want to kick us off?
Terri Kallsen: Sure. I've lived by a saying that the mentor I shared with you from Kimberly-Clark very early on, and one of the things she taught me because she knew I would be working with a very homogeneous male-dominated group, just like she did in the Kimberly-Clark, I did in the financial services. And what she told me was so important, she said, "Assume positive intent. Come to every meeting, every interaction, every group function, assuming all those around you want something positive to come to this." And that really helped me make sure that I was part of the group participating positively and helping us ultimately achieve full potential.
Terri Kallsen: And any organization that can help each individual achieve their full potential, is a high-performing organization. And the only way you help each individual achieve their full potential is to assume they want the positive outcomes and they want to be a part of the team. And so as you come into every meeting, think about that so that you actually can achieve those outcomes.
Indya Yuill: Yeah, oh my gosh, patience. Be patient, eat your vegetables per Liz's comments earlier, but no, I think the thing that has held me in good stead and I would tell younger people is to read. If you can learn more about what you're trying to be good at every week, and you're committed to that, you will pop out and you will have a strong knowledge base and you will be valued in your company and you will be valuable to your company and that will put you light years ahead. There's no shortcuts, but if you can read and educate yourself and every week try and get better, you'll be fantastic.
Jenna Dagenhart: Liz, any final advice for the group or for our viewers in addition to eating your vegetables, metaphorically speaking?
Elizabeth Levy: Metaphorically, yeah, as well as literally eating your vegetables. But I would say also make sure that your passion or your values or your heart is aligned with what you're doing. And so for many of us in financial services, that's really wanting to be aligned with giving all weekend to our clients, doing the best we can for them. In my particular case, that's my ESG orientation. And it's been very motivating for me, knowing every day that I come to work, that I am doing all I can on behalf of my clients in a way that's aligned with both my values and their values. And that's a motivating force for me, whether I'm eating the vegetables at my job or eating the dessert, it's that it's always in service of that passion. And that has kept me really diligent in my career, and I would encourage others to follow that rule as well.
Jenna Dagenhart: Well, this has been an absolute pleasure, thank you all so much for joining us today.
Terri Kallsen: Thank you.
Elizabeth Levy: Thank you.
Indya Yuill: For having us Jenna.
Jenna Dagenhart: And you to everyone watching this Asset TV woman in investing masterclass. Once again, I was joined by Elizabeth Levy, head of ESG strategy portfolio manager at Trillium Asset Management, Terri Kallsen, chief operations officer at Wealth Enhancement Group, and Indya Yuill, partner and managing director at Beacon Pointe Advisors. I'm Jenna Dagenhart with Asset TV.