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Continued: Financial advisers seek to close gender gap

  • Article by: JENNIFER BJORHUS , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 30, 2013 - 9:36 PM

There are mock interviews and role-playing rooms set up like offices or makeshift stores, even doors that new hires can practice approaching and knocking on.

Edward Jones is one of the only firms that send advisers out into neighborhoods to knock on doors. “No other firm in the industry does that as a way of training people,” said Sarch, the recruiter.

Stacey Okan, one of Edward Jones’ new hires, said she has scored some of her clients on doorsteps. “Not everybody is receptive to you knocking on their door, but for the most part people are pretty nice,” said Okan.

Okan, 46, of New Brighton, is a single mother who worked for years in advertising sales. She was looking for a career change, she said.

Okan now shares an office in Columbia Heights with another Edward Jones adviser. But she’s building her full-service practice in the New Brighton area and plans to open an office there soon, she said. She has tapped the company’s mentoring and support program for women, called “Women’s Initiative for New Growth Strategies,” or WINGS.

“I think females may have an edge in some ways because there’s a relational piece to our business,” said Okan.

Christina Boyd, managing director of investments and senior financial adviser at Merrill Lynch in Wayzata, agrees. “When we were traditional stockbrokers, I don’t think the job was as appealing to women,” Boyd said. “Now that we’re full-service financial planners, wealth managers, we have family meetings with clients, we do trust services. … I think that women are very, very good at the business the way it’s evolved.

“I tell women all the time, it’s the best business you can have. You’re kind of your own boss.”

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683

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