More than 110 female financial advisors and 200 guests gathered recently for the 13th Annual Women’s Symposium in St. Petersburg. Florida, hosted by the Raymond James Network for Women Advisors. It was a three-day event that covered business building sessions and networking activities. There was a wide array of speakers and breakout sessions provided guests with economic outlook updates and useful information on practice management and professional development. There was even a technology lab set up for on-site training that offered hands-on demonstrations of various tools such as the new Client Relationship Manager, the Financial Planning Suite, and the Advisor’s Resource Console.   In addition, home office departments conducted showcases with presenters attending from the Planning Corporation of America, Alternative Investments Group, Marketing, The Trust Companies, Raymond James Bank, Asset Management Services, Investment Banking, and Wealth Solutions.   The Raymond James Network for Women Advisors was established in 1994 with the goal of providing advisors with educational and networking opportunities to help grow their practices.   The Network aims to assist female financial advisors in leveraging their talents to create successful and fulfilling careers. Through a collection of activities and resources, it strives to help women advisors expand their knowledge, expertise, and businesses in a supportive, collaborative environment.   The Network also offers an annual gathering of its top recognition club women advisors. This event allows these senior level women to discuss specific issues they commonly face in their practices such as succession planning, team development, as well as unique estate planning strategies for high-net-worth clients.   A key component of The Network is the Women’s Advisory Council. This group of 12 female financial advisors, with varying levels of experience and a range of practice types, provides guidance and assistance to Raymond James’ women advisors. Along with developing strategies for supporting women, the group also serves as a resource to branch and senior management as the firm looks to attract quality female financial advisors. The Council is also responsible for shaping the agenda of the Symposium, from identifying timely topics to leading or facilitating many of the event’s breakout sessions.   Karen Schultz, vice president, and director for the Network, says that council members are integrally involved in mentoring activities, from leading monthly conference calls for trainees to providing advice, support, and guidance to experienced advisors.   The Network also provides business development support to its women advisors, including offering consulting services to advisors who are considering local sponsorship opportunities, assisting in the creation of materials to promote the event, and, in some instances, providing financial support.   Moreover, Schultz points out that the Women's Resource Centerwas created specifically for women advisors and contains links to useful marketing materials and strategies, tips, and best practices for growing a business, an "ask the experts" page, links to Websites containing key information and statistics on women, articles of interest, and a calendar of events.
Regular conference calls are scheduled for women advisors, featuring specific products and/or business building strategies, followed by the sharing of success stories as they relate to the topic. Schultz says that as the network expands, the company continuously offers additional activities to support its women advisors.   “Women are more natural sharers,” she notes. “Men are also sharers but frankly women embrace more. It’s kind of doing what comes naturally.”   The next Symposium will be held from October 1-3, 2008 at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg.   For further information on the Raymond James Network for Women Advisors, contact Karen at karen.schultz@raymondjames.com.

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