Top Women COOs in Wealth Management Winner Tarah Williams on Best Practices in Mentoring Women for Leadership Roles
By Michael Madden
March 29, 2022
Mentorship can mean everything to the full development potential of a person in any industry and position.
When a mentor that you know and trust takes you under their wing to develop your career and skills, there’s a much greater chance of bringing out hidden talent while gaining new perspectives that can help with solving complex problems on the job,
WSR Pathfinder Awards – Top Women COOs in Wealth Management winner Tarah Williams, COO of broker-dealer Prospera Financial, demonstrates the positive difference mentorship can have on one’s career trajectory.
The recently appointed COO with 15 years of experience at Prospera held various roles in the administration, marketing, branding and advisor recruitment of the company, which serves 165 advisors with approximately $16 billion in client assets after experiencing 25% growth in 2021.
In 2021, under Williams’ leadership as Chief Administrative Officer, the firm transitioned a record number of new advisors, acquired a $1.5 billion wealth management company and boasted a 98.8% retention rate.
We caught up with Williams to learn more about the benefits of mentoring and her own story of how mentoring transformed her career.
WSR: When did you know you wanted to aim your career at being a top executive? What was your inspiration?
Williams: I don’t know if I ever contemplated being a so-called “top executive.”
Rather, I have always been someone who likes to be at the top of my game. It was instilled in me early on that I could do anything I set my mind to – that it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of how. I just didn’t see many other women in those roles, so I didn’t think of it as a possibility.
Early in my financial services career, I identified and built personalized teams and services – a process that was, and still is, a passion of mine.
Susan Quinn, founder and CEO of Circle S Studio, served as an important mentor of mine during this period. She encouraged me to think bigger about team development and strategic problem solving and helped me understand that I could be a top executive.
It felt far off when I was 27, but Susan made me believe that, with commitment, hard work and resilience, it was the most natural thing in the world.
WSR: What barriers do women face today on the path to executive careers? What steps can the wealth management industry take to remove those barriers?
Williams: Mentoring is critical. I have been lucky to have mentors throughout my career. Still, there is a shortage of female mentors in our business at the executive levels, particularly in the technology and compliance spaces.
Industry leaders and rising executives need coaching on how women and men may approach the same opportunity differently. Also, more mentoring opportunities for young women from women in leadership would be helpful.
Unfortunately, our industry got a late start when it comes to women in leadership roles, but I plan to do my part to blaze the path for others to follow in my footsteps and achieve greater success in the future.