The Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion Awards recognize one Lifetime Achievement honoree each year who has demonstrated great leadership in advancing the diversity and inclusion cause in the financial advice industry. The See it, Be it Role Models are individuals in the business who exemplify success and can inspire others from diverse backgrounds to embrace the profession. Rising Stars are in the early stages of his or her career, but shows exceptional promise in what they have already contributed to the success and diversity of the profession.
Senior Vice President | Starner Group of Raymond James & Associates
No one expected stay-at-home wife and mother Margaret Starner to jump into the male-dominated financial planning industry, let alone become a defining member in the fight for gender equality.
By the 1980’s, Starner had already fulfilled her life’s purpose by typical societal standards. She was highly educated with a degree in economics from Stanford University, had married an engineer with a steady income and had raised two daughters. Yet the American dream meant more to Starner than a white picket fence.
“I noticed that I never was expected to make a difference in my family’s financial life and I thought that needed to change,” said Starner, who is 81. “My mindset was different because I didn’t intend on having a career, I just wanted to have fun while making a difference for women like myself.”
From then on Starner had one main objective: Give women a voice in their financial lives.
“Far too often I see male advisers meet with a couple and never look at the wife, not once, even today,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to give women a voice in financial decision-making. I decided early on that if I worked with a couple, the woman would be heard.”
This year’s winner of the InvestmentNews Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion Lifetime Achievement Award is not only a minority professional who’s succeeding in the financial services industry, she’s an individual who has made giving women a seat at the table a focal point of her life.
Starner started her firm 40 years ago. Today the Starner Group of Raymond James & Associates is an invitation-only wealth management practice in Coral Gables, Florida, with more than $1 billion in assets under management.
Before setting up shop in Florida, Starner grew up in the rural Mississippi Delta as the daughter of Chinese immigrants who owned a grocery store. In the 1940s, there weren’t a lot of Chinese immigrants in Mississippi so throughout her upbringing, Starner was used to being “the only something,” she said.
In Florida, the setting wasn’t much different once she became a certified financial planner. Being a woman made her unusual, but coupled with her ethnicity — she was an anomaly. “I use the novelty of me being different to my advantage,” she said. “You have to take what’s different about you, and make it work for you.”
In fact, when Starner first started going to client meetings, her opening statement was not traditional. “I introduced myself and said: ‘I’m a CFP with Raymond James, and if you don’t know what a CFP is, it’s a Chinese financial planner, and I’m the only one in Florida.’” She doesn’t make that joke anymore, but in the 1980s it made a statement, she said.
Starner has garnered myriad recognitions from publications as a pioneer for women in financial services, but she’s most proud of the support she offers other women.
“Margaret took a chance on me when I had zero industry experience and had no idea what the difference was between an IRA and a client named Ira,” said Jessica Delgado, senior client service associate at the Starner Group.
“She worked with me when it came time to take maternity leave — twice,” Delgado said. “I got to witness firsthand her passion for empowering women in the workplace. Margaret is one of the most generous people I have met in both my personal and professional life. Just don’t ask her to comment on that, she is far too modest.”
Starner has been giving women a voice before most women even thought about being active participants in financial planning. In 1992, she helped found the Raymond James Women’s Advisory Board, an internal organization focused on fostering opportunities for women at Raymond James. Starner was recognized as the Raymond James Woman of Distinction in 2006.
Moving forward, Starner is aimed at motivating the next generation of female leaders in the financial advice space with the Women’s Leadership Alliance, which she founded about three years ago.
“I started this nonprofit and we just raised short of $1 million to begin to develop it,” she said. “It’s been hard, by the way, we’re building a structure to get more mentorship for women to become advisers. It may be hard, but we’re women and we’re all bosses.”
Starner has been working with a group of Latina women advisers who are struggling to adjust to a “traditional white male-dominated environment,” she said. “I told them that they’re going to be pioneers in this industry, and one thing with being a pioneer is that you’re going to have a lot of arrows pointed at you, and you need to know that ahead of time.”
“Women can’t come into this industry thinking it’s going to be something you’re already used to — it’s not,” she said. “What is great is you’ll have an opportunity to make a difference because you’re pioneering a whole new concept for the industry.”
Starner also is a member of the Financial Planning Association, has served on the executive board of Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation since 1996, and is a past member of the board of the Securities Industry Institute.
Starner has no intentions of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, she balks at the idea of retiring. “I was supposed to retire nine years ago,” she said, with a laugh so sincere and inviting you can’t help but laugh with her.
Despite her insatiable passion for female empowerment, her temperament is fun, flowy and insanely personable.
“I remember early on in my career when a guy told me I’m too casual about everything,” she said. “Pretty soon, I was passing him up with clients and coaching him.”
However, being a pioneer for women isn’t easy, particularly because not all women are sure they want to have a voice in financial planning.
“The husband may be the dealmaker, but the wife is the dealbreaker,” she said. “However, many times the wife is reluctant to speak up.”
For advisers, it’s important to remember there will be times a woman doesn’t want to participate. “You have to figure out a way to let her, but it’s not always going to be the same for all women so as an adviser it’s your job to figure that out.”
Starner likes to have fun, but she attributes her successful career that spans four decades — and counting — to her discipline.
“Passion only gets you so far — it’s about doing the same thing every day until you are successful, that’s discipline,” she said, lamenting on the days when the internet came out and financial planners were deemed irrelevant. “But I stuck to it anyway.”
— Nicole Casperson
Nominees for the InvestmentNews Diversity & Inclusion Lifetime Achievement Award must currently be working as financial planners, registered representatives or registered investment advisers, or as industry professionals in a role that supports financial advisers. Judges will consider management, team development, achievement and a minimum 15-year commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion. InvestmentNews received about 130 nominations for the Diversity & Inclusions awards and selected 1 individual for the Lifetime Achievement award. The ranking may not be representative of any one client's experience, is not an endorsement, and is not indicative of future performance. Neither Raymond James nor any of its Financial Advisors pay a fee in exchange for this award/rating nor is Raymond James affiliated with InvestmentNews.
I’m proud to again celebrate being on the Forbes 2019 Top Women Advisors list and Barron's Top 100 Women Advisors 2019!
And in case you missed my last Musing, I was also Awarded the following in 2019!
The Forbes ranking of America’s Top Women Wealth Advisors, developed by SHOOK Research, is based on an algorithm of qualitative and quantitative data, rating thousands of wealth advisors with a minimum of seven years of experience and weighing factors like revenue trends, assets under management, compliance records, industry experience and best practices learned through telephone and in-person interviews. Portfolio performance is not a criteria due to varying client objectives and lack of audited data. 29,334 nominations were received, based on thresholds (7,826 women). 10,681 Advisors were invited to complete the online survey. 9,341 Advisors were interviewed by telephone. 1,925 Advisors were interviewed in-person at the Advisors' location. Neither Forbes nor SHOOK receive a fee in exchange for rankings. Raymond James is not affiliated with Forbes or Shook Research, LLC. This ranking is not indicative of advisor's future performance, is not an endorsement, and may not be representative of individual clients' experience.
Barron’s Top 100 Women Financial Advisors, (2019). Barron’s is a registered trademark of Dow Jones & Company, L.P. All rights reserved. The rankings are based on data provided by individual advisors and their firms and include qualitative and quantitative criteria. Data points that relate to quality of practice include professionals with a minimum of 7 years financial services experience, acceptable compliance records (no criminal U4 issues), client retention reports, charitable and philanthropic work, quality of practice, designations held, offering services beyond investments offered including estates and trusts, and more. Financial Advisors are quantitatively rated based on varying types of revenues produced and assets under management by the financial professional, with weightings associated for each. Investment performance is not an explicit component because not all advisors have audited results and because performance figures often are influenced more by clients’ risk tolerance than by an advisor’s investment picking abilities. The ranking may not be representative of any one client’s experience, is not an endorsement, and is not indicative of advisor’s future performance. Neither Raymond James nor any of its Financial Advisors pay a fee in exchange for this award/rating. Barron’s is not affiliated with Raymond James.
The Forbes ranking of Best-In-State Wealth Advisors, developed by SHOOK Research, is based on an algorithm of qualitative criteria and quantitative data. Those advisors who are considered have a minimum of seven years of experience, and the algorithm weighs factors like revenue trends, AUM, compliance records, industry experience and those who encompass best practices in their practices and approach to working with clients. Portfolio performance is not a criteria due to varying client objectives and lack of audited data. Out of 29,334 advisors nominated by their firms, 3,477 received the award. This ranking is not indicative of an advisor’s future performance, is not an endorsement, and may not be representative of an individual client’s experience. Neither Raymond James nor any of its financial advisors or RIA firms pay a fee in exchange for this award/rating. Raymond James is not affiliated with Forbes or Shook Research, LLC.
The FT 400 was developed in collaboration with Ignites Research, a subsidiary of the FT that provides specialized content on asset management. To qualify for the list, advisers had to have 10 years of experience and at least $300 million in assets under management (AUM) and no more than 60% of the AUM with institutional clients. The FT reaches out to some of the largest brokerages in the U.S. and asks them to provide a list of advisors who meet the minimum criteria outlined above. These advisors are then invited to apply for the ranking. Only advisors who submit an online application can be considered for the ranking. In 2019, roughly 960 applications were received and 400 were selected to the final list (41.7%). The 400 qualified advisers were then scored on six attributes: AUM, AUM growth rate, compliance record, years of experience, industry certifications, and online accessibility. AUM is the top factor, accounting for roughly 60-70 percent of the applicant’s score. Additionally, to provide a diversity of advisors, the FT placed a cap on the number of advisors from any one state that's roughly correlated to the distribution of millionaires across the U.S. The ranking may not be representative of any one client’s experience, is not an endorsement, and is not indicative of advisor’s future performance. Neither Raymond James nor any of its Financial Advisors pay a fee in exchange for this award/rating. The FT is not affiliated with Raymond James.
Barron’s Top 1,200 Financial Advisors, 2019. Barron’s is a registered trademark of Dow Jones & Company, L.P. All rights reserved. The rankings are based on data provided by over 4,000 individual advisors and their firms and include qualitative and quantitative criteria. Factors included in the rankings: assets under management, revenue produced for the firm, regulatory record, quality of practice and philanthropic work. Investment performance is not an explicit component because not all advisors have audited results and because performance figures often are influenced more by clients’ risk tolerance than by an advisor’s investment picking abilities. The ranking may not be representative of any one client’s experience, is not an endorsement, and is not indicative of advisor’s future performance. Neither Raymond James nor any of its Financial Advisors pay a fee in exchange for this award/rating. Barron’s is not affiliated with Raymond James.