Skip to main content

OneAmerica survey: Whitepaper offers insights on female financial advisors

Understanding motivations, hurdles and success factors key to recruiting and retention
INDIANAPOLIS, February 16, 2023

OneAmerica® today unveiled findings from a recent survey of over 200 female financial advisors. The results, detailed in a corresponding whitepaper, offer eye-opening insights on what motivates women to join and stay in the financial advisor profession, the unique challenges they face, and the common factors that fuel their success.


The survey was commissioned as part of the OneAmerica Female Retirement Professionals Program — an initiative created and envisioned by Sandy McCarthy, president of Retirement Services at OneAmerica and a 30-plus year veteran of the financial services industry. McCarthy also leads and chairs the program.


“Our program is about coming together to engage, empower and elevate female advisors,” said McCarthy. “What we learned from the survey allows us to do just that — establishing a baseline as we continue to advance this important discussion and translate our findings into action.”


Key highlights from the whitepaper, “Success Factors for Female Financial Advisors,” include:

  • Women are attracted to the advisor profession — and motivated to stay — because of the opportunity to help people. Over half of all early-career respondents — 56% — said “helping people with finances” was their motivation for becoming an advisor. This top motivator remained steady even with seasoned advisors (15+ years of experience), with 79% of respondents including the desire to help people as a top reason to stay in the profession. Interestingly, compensation was a distant second for both early-career and seasoned advisors.
  • While some career hurdles remain relatively consistent throughout an advisor’s career, others become more, or less, important. Early-career advisors noted knowledge and training as the top hurdle early on, though it saw a significant drop in importance for advisors with five or more years of experience. Regardless of career stage, work-life balance and new sales consistently ranked in the top five; serving clients and incentive-based compensation were consistently in the bottom five.
  • The “four Cs” can make or break career success. Confidence, community, connection and culture emerged in the survey as key determinants of success for female advisors.
    • Confidence: 70% of advisors with 15+ years of experience reported they began feeling confident in their skills and ability to help clients after four to 10 years of experience. This is especially significant in an industry known for high attrition in the early years, perhaps indicating that female advisors leave the profession before their confidence fully develops.
    • Community: Many female advisors indicated that finding community within the industry is critical, especially related to gaining knowledge and growing confidence. Community-based approaches like networking, mentorship, wholesaler education and support, and teaming were listed as the most effective ways to gain knowledge and confidence.
    • Connection: Female advisors said they’re most successful in growing their practices through approaches rooted in personal connection and relationship building, including client referrals, networking and building out a center of influence.
    • Culture: Respondents indicated that elements of firm culture can play a major role in their success. Of note, while overall responses indicated continuous learning and development, empowerment, and work-life balance as key, there were interesting exceptions. Empowerment, for example, was significantly less important to early-career female advisors than to their more experienced counterparts. Recognition was consistently ranked lowest in importance for all groups.


McCarthy sees clear action steps in the survey’s results.


“My first reaction when I saw these results was that we could make a difference,” said McCarthy. “We’re really seeing just how significant and formative an advisor’s first few years can be. Being aware is the first step. From here, we can work together as an industry — not only to get women in the door, but to support, retain and grow them throughout their careers. There’s an incredible opportunity here.”


OneAmerica previewed the survey findings with a select group of industry professionals in December 2022 and is planning to connect with individual advisor firms in 2023 — sharing information that may help firms refine their approach to attracting and retaining female advisors. Planning is also underway for additional events, programming and connection opportunities for the OneAmerica Female Retirement Professionals Program as a whole.


“As a female who has spent my 30-plus year career in the financial services industry, I’ve seen firsthand the value that female financial professionals bring to their clients, and to the industry itself,” said McCarthy. “It was so important to me personally, and to OneAmerica, to create a program that has a meaningful impact. It’s exciting to see this work come to life.”


OneAmerica® is the marketing name for the companies of OneAmerica.

#   #   #

About the OneAmerica® Female Retirement Professionals Program

Launched in April 2021, the OneAmerica Female Retirement Professionals Program is built on our belief in the power of relationships. By delivering focused education and facilitating networking and relationship-building opportunities, the program aims to elevate the way female professionals show up in the retirement industry and brings to life a key OneAmerica philosophy — that we can best help our industry partners grow and thrive by getting to know who they are, recognizing their strengths and understanding their challenges.


The program was envisioned and is chaired by Sandy McCarthy, president of Retirement Services at OneAmerica. With over three decades of experience in the financial services industry, Sandy is passionate about continuing to advance the discussion around topics such as the importance of attracting females to the profession, and the unique value they bring to the industry and to clients.


About OneAmerica®


A national provider of insurance and financial services for more than 140 years, the companies of OneAmerica help customers build and protect their financial futures. OneAmerica offers a variety of products and services to serve the financial needs of their policyholders and customers. These products include retirement plan products and recordkeeping services, individual life insurance, annuities, asset-based long-term care solutions and employee benefit plan products. Products are issued and underwritten by the companies of OneAmerica and distributed through a nationwide network of employees, agents, brokers and other sources who are committed to providing value to our customers. To learn more about our products, services and the companies of OneAmerica, visit


Media Contact:


Ahmed Ismail