Karma Forrestal shares how she has been advising her clients through this global pandemic in the Dimensional Perspectives column “Empathy and Expertise: How Financial Advisors Are Helping Clients During COVID-19.” Karma was featured along with six other female advisors from Dimensional’s Women and Wealth Community. In 2017, Karma joined Dimensional’s Women and Wealth Community as one of the group’s first participating advisors.

From Women and Wealth to the Forum Women’s Initiative

When Karma joined Forum in 2012, she was the only female non-partner advisor in the home office with one female partner in the leadership group. Today, women make up 29% of the Forum partnership group, twice the industry average of firm ownership by female partners. As one of the founders of the Forum Women’s Initiative, Karma saw the opportunity to bring together other female advisors to create a support network, all while helping women reach their long-term financial goals.

In this Q&A, Karma discusses the road she followed to become a partner at a $4.5 billion Registered Investment Advisor firm and advice for women considering pursuing a career as a financial advisor.

What stands out when you look back on your career path?    

It is clear to me now that things happen for a reason. Less than a year into my first job working for a financial advisor, I realized that I was feeling bored at work. Sitting at a desk all day long was not for me. I could have left the industry altogether. Instead, I decided to challenge myself, so I spent three years studying and earned my CFP® certification. Then, I set out to build my own book of business and joined Forum. If I could give my former self some advice about developing into a great financial advisor, it would be to believe in my ability to succeed in this industry and be an advocate for myself as a female advisor.

What led to the creation of the Forum Women’s Initiative?

We had the opportunity to make a difference by creating change. When we considered our client relationships across Forum — with nearly 40% women-directed households — we wanted to build a formal initiative that would support the female decision makers in those client relationships and be a resource for the female advisors supporting their clients as they try to achieve personal financial milestones. The vision of the Forum Women’s Initiative is to cultivate an inclusive, client-centric culture that empowers women to become financially independent.

How would you describe the typical experience for women as investors?

For decades, women have been underserved by the financial services industry. Far too often, women are dismissed or ignored by advisors, even when they are sitting across the table ready to make decisions about their financial future. One statistic that stands out to me when reflecting on how things are changing is that more than half of women between 25 and 34 prefer to work with a female advisor. That tells me that the days are numbered for this prevailing attitude toward female clients, which slowly but surely is no longer being tolerated by investors seeking a positive relationship with their financial advisor.

What advice do you have for women considering a career as a financial advisor?

Women make excellent financial advisors because we are caring and empathetic. Female advisors value having genuine relationships with their clients, which are wonderful attributes in a financial advisor. However, I have observed that one of the downfalls for female advisors is taking things to heart so much that it limits the potential for success. It can be intimidating finding your path through a male-dominated industry such as this one. I focused on learning how to approach situations from a neutral standpoint, essentially letting things roll of my back instead of dwelling on them. Confidence is not just a state of being, it is a necessary skill that empowers you to take better care of your clients and go farther in your career.


We help advisors establish and grow successful wealth management practices. To learn more about how we can help you amplify your life’s work, contact us at team@waalliance.com. You can follow us on Twitter@theWAAlliance and on LinkedIn.

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