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Women financial professionals have become significantly more influential in the financial services industry in recent years. Their advocacy efforts reached a new milestone in March 2023.

On March 29-30, the Inaugural Women’s Financial Security Fly-In brought together more than 40 women to amplify women’s voices in Washington. Sponsored by NAIFA (the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors), the fly-in allowed women financial professionals to advocate on issues that affect women’s financial and economic security in the U.S.

In keeping with our dedication to represent all our customers, a strong core of Ameritas women financial professionals is leading the charge to get women’s voices heard. According to Beth Goldsmith, second vice president, practice management and development, the time to act is now. Congress currently includes a record number of women. Together, they represent 28% of all congressional seats, a 59% increase from a decade ago.

“When you have a group of women together advocating on Capitol Hill, they’re able to turn the conversation toward the reality of women’s financial concerns,” Beth explained. “We’re proud that Ameritas is there at the forefront of that effort.”

This year’s fly-in served another key purpose: challenging women in financial services to become certified as financial security advocates.

Women financial security advocates: the key to change

To help its female members effectively advocate for their profession, NAIFA required financial security advocate training prior to the Women’s Financial Security Fly-in.

“The training helped us understand how to best make an impact on our elected representatives,” Beth said. “How to ensure our message was clear and heard, how to appropriately follow up, and how to structure any ongoing communication, whether via email or face-to-face. It allowed us to go into the week with a heightened level of comfort.”

The training also featured a keynote by Rachel Pearson, founder of Engage, a bipartisan movement for women’s financial security. Engage’s mission is to provide all American women, regardless of race, religion, or gender identity, with the keys to lifelong financial security. “What’s so powerful about Engage is that they are absolutely committed to creating bipartisan solutions to address women’s financial security issues,” Beth explained.

“Rachel Pearson detailed the realities of a female’s economic plight—including the fact that 46% of women enter retirement financially insecure*, and she broke down that statistic further into the segments of our population who are especially at risk. Her analysis started at the very beginning of a woman’s financial journey, during early childhood, then extended through school, working life and caregiving years. There’s work to be done to help women be more financially secure. Her talk painted a clear picture about why it’s so important for women to have advocacy in Washington and it was the perfect preparation for our time with our representatives.”

Real issues and hot topics

Once they arrived in Washington, the women financial professionals immediately went to work, taking part in briefings on key topics such as the SECURE Act 2.0. This act, passed in late 2022, introduced several changes designed to help strengthen the retirement system—and Americans’ financial readiness for retirement. Financial professionals can help ensure that readiness.

“The biggest impact we have on our elected representatives is being able to effectively convey the message that financial professionals naturally act as a fiduciary for our clients,” Beth said. “We are always seeking to create products and services that are in our clients’ best interests. So being able to share client stories that really demonstrate the dedication and focus of financial professionals is key. The Fly-In was an opportunity to paint the reality of the work we do in fulfilling the lives of our clients and customers. It ties so well to our mission, and to share that story on Capitol Hill was incredibly valuable.”

A seat—and an amplified voice—at the table

According to NAIFA, only a fraction of American agents and financial professionals currently participate in associations such as NAIFA that advocate for positive legislative and regulatory environments. That’s a problem, since financial professionals are uniquely positioned to understand the concerns of the individuals, families and small businesses that comprise Main Street America. When financial professionals raise their voices, work gets done in Congress, as evidenced by the SECURE Act of 2019 and SECURE 2.0 in 2022.

As Beth pointed out, women financial professionals are starting to drive that conversation. “It’s part of a growing trend that you’re seeing a lot of women not only having a seat at the table, which has been so meaningful, but also voice at the table. I think that’s a unique distinction, and that having a voice and then the amplification of that voice is critical. Programs such as NAIFA’s Women’s Financial Security Fly-In help us accomplish just that.”

Next steps for women’s financial security

Being present in Washington in an ongoing way is critical to help move key agendas forward, and Ameritas financial professionals stepped up. Nine of the forty attending women financial professionals represented Ameritas during the Fly-In, which is noteworthy in that our field force is not as large as those of the other attending companies (Northwestern Mutual, Guardian Life and New York Life). “Representing the home office were myself and Divisional Vice President Toni Gonzales—the rest were our field members,” Beth explained. “It was amazing to see them in action sharing their passion, their stories and helping to amplify their clients’ stories as well.”

Those stories will continue to be told. NAIFA’s signature grassroots advocacy event is its Congressional Conference, hosted this year May 22-23 in Washington Beth expects there will be greater participation for that event among women financial professionals compared to last year.

“My hope is that we can expand and grow the Ameritas representation in Washington and help extend the certified advocate program to more and more women within our field. Here at the home office, we recently had the honor of rolling out AWE, or Ameritas Women Elevated, which is our organization for women financial professionals. Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Sue Wilkinson is the executive sponsor and I’m the home office coordinator and sponsor. Our focus is to create meaningful learning opportunities throughout the year and then host a major in-person conference for our members. It’s all part of our mission to help support our financial professionals every day as they support their clients. Whether that’s in creating products and services they can use, or giving them a voice on Capitol Hill, we’re here to help them—and their clients and customers—fulfill life.”