Leisl L. Cording, CFP®
Senior Vice President & Financial Advisor
Leisl L. Cording, CFP® is among the relatively few women in an advisory and leadership role in the financial industry. Just 25 percent of all financial advisors are women, and even fewer hold a leadership position.
At just 36 years old, Cording is both. She is a Senior Vice President and Financial Advisor at Weiss, Hale & Zahansky Strategic Wealth Advisors, a Pomfret, Connecticut based independent investment firm serving clients in 35 states.
Her experience as a woman working within a male-dominated industry, as well as her experience working with other women to help them build wealth and become financially empowered, reveals important lessons – lessons that can serve to propel all girls and women to become more empowered both financially and otherwise.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, her perspective is an important one to consider as we look ahead to creating greater equality for women in the future.
Here, she shares some of the lessons she’s learned as a woman in finance, and the advice she gives to other girls and women about finances and finding success...
What made you want to enter the field of Finance?
When I was younger I liked math, and I also really enjoyed helping people as well. When I started college at Quinnipiac University I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but my dad encouraged me to enroll in the School of Business. Then I found finance, which combines math and helping people, and it all came together that becoming a financial advisor was a good path for me.
What was it like studying Finance in college? Were you a minority in the program?
There were some other women in the program, but it was very male dominated, which is similar to everything I’ve experienced working in the field since then as well. Once I graduated and got into the workplace, I found that a majority of the leaders were male and a lot of assistants handling the day-to-day work with clients were female, which was interesting to see. That’s still pretty much the case today as well, but it is slowly getting better.
What are your favorite parts of your job?
I honestly love helping clients work toward achieving their financial goals, which then allows them to achieve their life goals. When you can help someone feel confident about their ability to accomplish their dreams, that’s always really rewarding.
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Do you feel you've encountered any bias as a woman working in Finance, and if so, how did you deal with that?
I think I have experienced that in some ways, but I don’t let those things bother me. I’m pretty driven and so if there are obstacles like that or things that make me feel disadvantaged, I try to rise above them. I make it known that I’m here, I’m an important member of the team, I’m intelligent, confident, and I have an opinion.
Especially in the early years of my career, I think my biggest obstacle was just building confidence. But my mom has always taught me to have courage and perseverance, and I learned from her that anything I want to do I can set out to achieve, and that everything comes from within. My twin sister Kate (who also works at WHZ) and I have always been each other’s biggest supporters in any endeavor as well, from playing soccer to college to our professional careers. I think having those women mentors and supporters around you really helps.
I’ve definitely had positive experiences as a woman in Finance as well, though. Our leadership here at Weiss, Hale & Zahansky is incredibly supportive and inclusive. Good leaders always empower their team and that’s what they do for me and the rest of our team, both male and female. But knowing that women make up only 25 percent of the industry, they make sure I have access to female mentors and women-centric conferences, which is wonderful.
Are there certain financial challenges that you see women facing frequently? What is your advice?
The biggest challenge I see with many of the women I work with is the same one I struggled with myself, which is just having the confidence to know that you can educate yourself about your finances and then believing in that knowledge and your decisions.
So much of it comes back to the fact that females were just not included in discussions or decisions about money for so long, and so there’s this tendency to feel intimidated by it. That’s beginning to change now but those attitudes can still persist. So as a financial advisor, it’s an important part of my job to help my female clients feel empowered to understand their finances and build confidence in their own financial knowledge. I really enjoy that.
Another frequent challenge that sort of stems from that first one is women not building up enough assets in their own name to feel comfortable retiring. Whether they’re single or recently divorced, if they haven’t been proactive about saving their own funds their strategy often ends up having to focus on how to get them caught up as soon as possible so they can live well in retirement. So helping my female clients understand how to create a Plan Well, Invest Well, Live Well strategy to achieve their goals is another important part of what I do.
Women also tend to be more conservative with their investments, which can hurt them over time in terms of accumulating wealth. Taking on an appropriate amount of risk for your own situation and goals is the key, and that’s where a solid strategy comes into play again.
What is your advice to girls and young women considering a career in Finance?
Well first off, we definitely need more programs that promote women and girls getting into finance. It’s really a great job for women, because they tend to be more caring and intuitive about people’s needs and wants. So if you like math and caring for people like I do, it’s a no-brainer!
But like in my case and in the case of many of my clients, having confidence in yourself and your ability to succeed in the financial field is key. Unfortunately, that’s often a challenge for girls and young women, especially because it’s so male dominated which can make them feel it’s not suitable for them.
I’d advise them to talk with a woman in the field to get an understanding of what the work is like, challenges to prepare for, and opportunities to look out for as well. I would be happy to talk to any girl who’s interested in pursuing a career in finance. It’s definitely been a great experience for me.
If you’d like some advice on building a career in Finance, or if you’d like help creating a strategy for your own finances using our Plan Well, Invest Well, Live Well process at Weiss, Hale & Zahansky Strategic Wealth Advisors, do get in touch.
Authored by Laura Dunn for Weiss, Hale & Zahansky Strategic Wealth Advisors. Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. These materials are general in nature and do not address your specific situation. For your specific investment needs, please discuss your individual circumstances with your financial advisor. Weiss, Hale & Zahansky Strategic Wealth Advisors does not provide tax or legal advice, and nothing in the accompanying pages should be construed as specific tax or legal advice. 697 Pomfret Street, Pomfret Center, CT 06259, 860.928.2341. http://www.whzwealth.com