Why Being a Woman of Color in Financial Services Is an Opportunity: From a Private Wealth Advisor

Sponsored by Merrill

Myah Moore Irick. Photo courtesy of Merrill.

Myah Moore Irick. Photo courtesy of Merrill.

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Myah Moore Irick grew up in Oahu in a multicultural, multiracial family. “The humble circumstances of my upbringing instilled in me a strong work ethic, the value of education, and a desire to empower others,” she tells us. Today, these formative life experiences continue to impact how Irick lives her values in her personal life and professional life as a Private Wealth Advisor and Founder of The Irick Group at Merrill Private Wealth Management.

“To this day, my upbringing motivates me and grounds me,” she notes. “Wealth management was nothing that I knew about growing up. It was only after I left the island for college that I began to understand the ways in which wealth can be used for good and realized the ways I could shepherd families along their wealth journey.”

As for what motivates her, Irick tells us that she is driven by a desire to help others live purposeful, fulfilled lives. “I love empowering others to use their money to have an impact,” Irick explains. “I have a strong work ethic, and I am very involved in my community. But I also have three amazing children and a spouse that is a busy executive.”

So, how does she balance it all while following her passions? “My work philosophy is work smarter, not harder,” reveals Irick. “That means being intentional about my time and my schedule. I might need to take a call on my way to a board meeting, respond to emails while I watch soccer practice, or prepare for a meeting at night when my children are asleep.”

And this is just the beginning of Irick’s great advice and insight into life as a financial advisor. To learn more, keep reading…

To begin, can you share more details about your path to becoming a Financial Advisor?

While I was studying for my first Masters at Columbia University, I took on several senior positions at the School of Education (Teachers College) and the School of Business. In my role, I advised a lot of executives and families on philanthropy and estate planning solutions. These roles combined my background in education and my love for finance. That’s where my wealth management journey really began. Once I got that taste of helping individuals and families understand how they could use their money as a tool for good, I was hooked. I eventually went on to complete an international MBA with honors from a joint program between Brown University and Instituto de Empresa.

I’ve worked for several banks and financial institutions across several cities for more than a decade, but now I am in Pittsburgh, and I lead my own national team that I founded, The Irick Group, with Merrill Private Wealth Management.

Can you describe some challenges you faced in your journey and how you navigated them along the way?

Being a woman (and a Woman of Color) in financial services is an opportunity. In our industry, there still exists a bias for doing things the way they have always been done. This, by definition, may exclude women and other underrepresented people since we haven’t historically had the opportunity to be in the room. 

I see this as a chance to bring a fresh perspective, to challenge past narratives, and to encourage inclusion when we think about how we serve our clients or how we identify talent to bring into the industry. I am persistent in my requests for the benefit of my clients and underrepresented communities.

What are the top qualities you look for when you’re building your team?

I am always looking for advisors with diverse backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences that demonstrate curiosity, integrity, and passion. Finance and the markets can be taught, but finding someone with those qualities is more challenging. 

Moving on, let’s talk more about your current work. What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?

Every evening before I leave the office, I check the next day’s schedule and confirm that I am adequately prepared for the day/week ahead. I am intentional with how I spend my time each day, who I meet with, and what events I attend. I am really purposeful with how I manage my calendar and my time. 

Speaking of being purposeful with your time, how do you prioritize and deal with your to-do list each day?

My top priority is always my current clients, which can oftentimes take up my whole day. If I have an outstanding request or need to return a call from a client, that is my priority. Obviously, my team and I are always watching the market as well, and the volatility over the last few years has created many days where agendas are derailed. Otherwise, my to-do list is ever evolving. 

What’s something you’re especially good at related to your work?

I am strong at connecting with people from all backgrounds, listening with empathy, attentively solving problems, and finding solutions to complex situations. This is particularly helpful when developing wealth plans and investment plans for those experiencing “sudden wealth” or with families with unique intergenerational needs. 

I am also strong in the area of prospecting and business development. I believe in the resources my team provides, I have a strong understanding of the markets and investment solutions, and, frankly, I want to be of service. A lot of my outreach is educational because I want to share the knowledge and expertise that I have gained during my career with others that, like me, might not have grown up in a family or went to an educational system that talked about or taught finance. 

What about outside of work?

I am a valuable board member. I have a unique perspective and a drive to support causes that are important to me. I advocate for equity, education, and access in both the classroom and the boardroom. I serve on the boards of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Carnegie Science Center, the Energy Innovation Center, and the advisory board for The Advanced Leadership Institute. With my husband (who is also a first-generation college graduate), we have endowed a handful of scholarships at our alma maters. And, as a former Miss Oregon 2003, I provide an academic scholarship to the Miss Oregon, Miss Washington, and Miss Idaho USA pageants. I hope that I continue to demonstrate the importance of lifting as you climb

Finally, what about the Merrill culture initially stood out to you?

The camaraderie. I have been inspired by the relationships with other advisors that I have created at Merrill. I used to think that being at a “brokerage house” would be overly competitive and that every advisor would act independently; however, I have found it to be very different from what I expected. I have partnered with advisors around the country to serve clients and also coach/mentor advisors nationally. The ability to unite our strengths and skillsets to create dynamic partnerships and best serve specific clients is a true opportunity here.

Also, I am a member of the Advisor Growth Network (AGN) and sit on the Merrill Black African American Advisor Leadership Council (BAALC). The sense of community amongst both the AGN and the Black advisors here has been so empowering and is something I have never experienced at prior firms.

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