Women Soaring Conference inspires associates to rise to new heights

Embracing equity and inspiring higher.

Raymond James and its Women’s Inclusion Network hosted the third annual Women Soaring Conference from March 7 to 9. The three-day event took place at the St. Petersburg, Florida, home office, with live sessions broadcasted to all corporate locations. Combining the themes “inspire higher” and “embrace equity,” the International Women’s Day theme, the Women Soaring Conference featured sessions to help associates and advisors elevate their skills and feel inspired to reach new heights in their personal and professional development.

The event kicked off on March 7 with three speaker events, which highlighted career relaunches, equity in financial services, and how to inspire and encourage the next generation of leaders. Following these events, the Women’s Inclusion Network hosted a networking reception at the St. Petersburg and Memphis, Tennessee, offices to give attendees the opportunity to interact in genuine conversation and meet peers from throughout the firm.

Scott Curtis, president of the Private Client Group, moderated the fireside chat on embracing equity in financial services. He spoke with three women leaders from across the firm, including Erina Ford, vice president of Investment Products & Support; Michelle Marquez, managing director for Marquez Private Wealth; and Salit Nagy-Todd, senior vice president of technology. Speakers candidly discussed their journeys into finance, advice for women in career advancement and ways to form a more equitable, inclusive industry.

Greta Henning, a branch professional and Women Soaring Conference attendee, said “Erina Ford talked about being bold enough to go for opportunities that seem scary or out of reach. I’m currently studying for my Series 7 licensing exam, and sometimes I think to myself, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.’ Erina’s message was so encouraging and inspired me to keep pushing forward with the mindset that I can do it!”

Day two of the conference took place on International Women’s Day, opening with a conversation on leadership in a hybrid environment – moderated by Erin Eckhouse, head of Human Resources for Raymond James UK, and ending with a session on the power of allyship from Raymond James Ltd. offices in Canada. To celebrate International Women’s Day, keynote speaker Kim Jenson, chief operating officer and senior vice president of the Private Client Group, spoke with Julia Richardson, general counsel of Retirement, Benefits and Compensation, about her journey through the financial industry. While sharing her extraordinary path, Kim intertwined her mantra, “We rise by lifting others,” to express how she broke down barriers to excel in an executive position.

Katherine White, a portfolio account analyst in Memphis, said, “I liked what Kim Jenson had to say about taking the reins into your own hands as a woman. You really do have to make it happen for yourself. I plan on continuing what I’m currently doing – reaching out to leaders and managers to shadow and learn from them as well as participate in different networking opportunities.”

Attendees wrapped up an empowering week with two final sessions on March 9, which touched on authenticity and self-care. Kelly Schaeffer, managing director and head of New York Institutional Equity Sales, interviewed Vennette Ho, managing director of Investment Banking, about leading with authenticity – a tricky feat for women. As one of the few managing directors in Raymond James Investment Banking, Vennette shared tips for gaining confidence, developing self-awareness and how to break through the glass ceiling – even when you’re the only woman in the room.

Jeni Rimmer-Milar, a branch associate who attended the self-care session, said, “Self-care is first to be able to ‘care’ for others. I am going to work harder on ensuring that I am caring for myself in the best [ways] I can, so that I can ‘show up’ in the best way possible.”

Stay tuned for more information about the 2024 Women Soaring Conference.

Celebrating women at Raymond James

As of September 2022, the firm’s workforce is made up of nearly 50% women and was awarded the 2022 Best Workplaces for Women. Raymond James continues to support women through programs such as the Women’s Inclusion Network, Women in Capital Markets and the Women Financial Advisors Network. Each organization fosters an environment for women to grow and support one another to contribute to the firm’s success as well as their own.

Learn more about the Raymond James Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Networks.