Women of Northwestern Mutual Manhattan Beach

Above L to R: Juanita De Castro, Talia Cheatham, Hollon Hursh, Kelly Heinen, Heather Quinn, Autumn Katz, Helen Duros, Nina Flores, Lourdes Parra

Northwestern Mutual is a Fortune 500 company that provides a wide range of financial services to more than 4.6 million people nationwide. The advisors at the Manhattan Beach location help clients at different life stages, in different career fields and with different financial goals. Their services include wealth management, retirement planning, life insurance, estate analysis, investment strategies, education funding, disability insurance and group employee benefits.

Would you say women have significant financial power in 2023?

Without a doubt, and increasingly so. Recent studies have shown that a staggering 90% of women will eventually take charge of their family’s wealth, and 44% of United States ultra-high-net-worth individuals are women. Currently, 40% of women make more money than their spouse.

What do you think more advisors should be aware of?

More advisors should keep an eye on not only women, but on our younger generations. Gen Z is less intimidated about starting financial planning than previous generations. While other generations held false beliefs that they were starting too soon or had to accumulate a certain amount of wealth before meeting with a financial advisor, Gen Z has no such qualms. Women under 35 opened a retirement account (average age 20) and an investment account (average age 21) almost a decade earlier than women over 35 did.

Does bias still exist toward women in this space?

Yes, and it can be hard even for women themselves to shake. A 2022 eye-tracking study revealed that both male and female financial advisors give over 60% of their focal time to men when meeting with male/female couples. This means that some advisors miss important body language cues and can sometimes discount women decision-makers.

What steps do you take to encourage inclusivity?

As an all-woman team in a traditionally male-dominated industry, we encourage inclusivity through leading by example. Beyond that, we create channels to support unique needs around training, connection and family support for our fellow women team members, advisors and clients.

In what ways do women relate differently to you than do their male counterparts?

Women often perceive that the financial services industry was built by men, for men. In many ways, they are correct. When meeting with a financial advisor, women tend to prepare, study and research in advance of the meeting much more often than their male counterparts. Interestingly, when women meet with female financial advisors, they feel less pressure to do this same level of preparation, allowing for a more comfortable, collaborative experience.

What’s a common theme in your conversations with women clients?

Women have a lifestyle—not a dollar amount—they want. If our only concern is relaying the exact dollar amount a woman can expect to have when she retires, we miss out on what is most important to her. Also, women tend to be more concerned about the important people in their lives. Will her parents and children be taken care of? We try to hit on every facet of this conversation to ensure each client’s plan is reflective of their values and lifestyle.

How do you build, maintain and grow client relationships?

Trust, authenticity and a foundation of genuine connection. We actively seek natural connections with clients for whom we can create value and impact. People can sense that we have their best interests at heart. When they get that feeling, the relationship lasts and they want to tell other people about us.

What is unique about your work?

Women are not only more involved in financial services than ever before, but as a whole we’re moving into more leadership positions and higher-caliber teams. This is important as we work to support the growing number of women in control of our country’s wealth. According to a 2020 study conducted by McKinsey & Co., “By 2030 American women are expected to control much of the $30 trillion in financial assets that baby boomers will possess—a potential wealth transfer of such magnitude that it approaches the annual GDP of the United States.”

How is your work meaningful?

The landscape of wealth in our country is changing to include more women, both in the industry itself and as controllers of said wealth. We’re happy to be on the forefront, challenging women to step into their power and become the authors of their own financial journey.

Disclaimer: Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM) and its subsidiaries, including Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS) (investment brokerage services), a registered investment adviser, broker-dealer, and member of FINRA (finra.org) and SIPC (sipc.org), and Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company® (NMWMC) (investment advisory and trust services), a federal savings bank. NM and its subsidiaries are in Milwaukee, WI. Heather Quinn, Kelly Heinen, and Juanita De Castro are Insurance Agents of NM. Heather Quinn and Kelly Heinen are Registered Representatives of NMIS. Autumn Katz is employed by the General Agent and associated with the local office listed. Recruiters are not licensed insurance agents, registered representatives of a broker-dealer, investment adviser representatives of a registered investment adviser, or representatives of a federal savings bank.

Photographed by Shane O’Donnell