Raise your hand if you would describe your employer as an “amazing company to work for [that] truly cares about their employees [and] hires based on qualifications and not gender.” Raise your hand if you’d also describe your employer as one that offers “good salaries and great benefits,” or if you have “a very laid back manager who respects the demands of parenthood and encourages people to communicate honestly with him.”
If you didn’t raise your hand three times, you’re in the majority — and you deserve better. Luckily, there are some companies out there that are offering all those amazing things. One of them, Bank of America, employs the three women quoted above — and is hiring like crazy right now, particularly for an amazing financial advisor development program that preps women who are interested in becoming financial advisors.
If you’re considering a career in wealth advising but you’re worried that finance is not the most women-friendly industry, this program may be perfect for you. We looked into why, specifically, women at Bank of America are so into their jobs. What we found is pretty amazing:
Financial professionals tend to work a lot. BoA recognizes that — and therefore encourages flexibility so that employees can better manage all of the commitments they’re juggling. If you’ve dreamed of a career in financial advising but want to avoid a grueling work schedule, BoA may be your solution.
Why? BoA employees and their managers can mutually agree upon flexible work arrangements, and BoA has some specific policies in place to ensure this actually happens. Through a program called My Work, for instance, employees can put in some of their work hours remotely. BoA’s FlexTime and Compressed Workweeks program offers employees the opportunity to alter the time at which they start and end their work day, or allows them to condense a full-time workweek into fewer days.
The company also has a Select Time program that allows employees to take on a reduced work schedule and job responsibilities for a specific need, as well as a Job Sharing program that lets two non-overtime-eligible employees to share the responsibilities of one job.
In 2016, BoA made a move that distinguished itself from many of the other big banks in the U.S. by increasing its paid maternity leave and paid paternity leave policy from 12 to 16 weeks. The new policy — which also applies to parents who adopt a child — allows parents a ton of flexibility; they’re able to take the time off any time within the first year of their child’s arrival. This is huge for parents who have a partner who also works, because the two can stagger when they take leave and have more overall time at home with their child.
In addition, BoA offers wellness programs, amazing health care accounts and dependent care flexible spending accounts to help employees manage costs associated with healthcare, childcare and elderly adult care.
And they’re not just talking the talk. Tons of companies, especially in recent years, tout that they’re committed to embracing diversity — but don’t do much to prove that it’s a priority. BoA sets itself apart by not only carrying through on existing programs and policies, but also by responding to the ever-changing climate and needs of employees.
In 2016, for example, after recognizing the civil strife and protests erupting in cities around the world, BoA invited members from its National Community Advisory Council to speak at a panel conversation on social justice and racial equality. Panelists included Cornell Brooks of the NAACP, Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Marc Morial of the National Urban League. Replays of the conversation were shared with all employees — and the event was also broadcast to more than 50,000 Employee Network members.
In addition to facilitating open, candid conversations about issues that are often difficult to discuss at work, BoA is super proactive about ensuring employees are continually learning and developing their careers. One employee writes on Fairygodboss, “I worked at the company early in my career [...] the best aspects about working at the company include: career development opportunities, career advancement opportunities, good colleagues, good HR, good salary and benefits.”
In developing programs for employee growth, BoA applies a diversity-first approach. In 2016, for example, the company launched a program called ‘Pathways to Progression’ to improve the retention, engagement and pull-through of women to more senior levels. And, in the past 4 years, nearly 30,000 employees have had unconscious bias training, and the company has an incredible Diverse Leader Sponsorship Program, which targets top-performing diverse talent and assigns participants to a senior leader sponsor who helps accelerate the candidate’s visibility, advocacy and development.
Whether you’re considering a career change or you simply need a fresh start at a new company, BoA’s Financial Advisor Development Program should be way up there on your list as you’re researching opportunities. For starters, the program is well-designed and comprehensive — and there’s the added bonus that BoA is specifically looking for women like you to apply.
How does it work? It’s a 43-month development program for professionals who are interested in building a wealth management business and eventually becoming a Merrill Lynch financial advisor (Merrill Lynch Wealth Management is part of BoA). Participants, also known as practice management development associates, offers new advisors the most professional and client-focused sales, investment, and training in the industry. They’re set up with mentors and managers who help them to develop a pipeline of affluent clients and skillfully maintain these client relationships.
In addition to top-notch training and resources, practice management development associates also receive a base salary throughout the 43 months, along with bonus potential.
Needless to say, women who work at BoA are happy for a reason. If you’re not feeling great about your company’s benefits and culture — or if you’re trying to figure how to best reach your goal of becoming a financial advisor — now’s your chance to make a move and join an employer that values and supports all the right things.
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