Advancing the Industry During the Pandemic – A Panel Discussion

By Becky Steffens | Senior Growth Strategist

SPS Family’s Jennifer Bacarella is an impressive professional. As a 2018 InvestmentNews Woman to Watch, a Crain’s Detroit Notable Woman in Finance, and a member of the WIFS Board of Directors, Jennifer has spent her career building and empowering women in financial services while also growing SPS Family, managing her own practice, and raising her family.

What you may not know is that for the last three years, she has been a panelist at the InvestmentNews’ Women Adviser Summit (WAS). During these summits, Jennifer shares advice and insight on what she has learned along the way in her 25+ years in the financial industry. 

In the most recent WAS, hosted virtually on March 18, Jennifer spoke about attracting and retaining superior talent. Here are brief recaps of what Jennifer had to say:

Question: During the pandemic, how did you recruit new advisors?

Jennifer: We had to pivot quickly. Many representatives were afraid to transition, but in reality, with everyone being at home, this was one of the best times to do a transition. Clients had more time to concentrate on the paperwork and make it a priority. Representatives also had the opportunity to slow down and explain to clients why they were moving broker-dealers, and why it was important to them.

Question: What have you seen in the industry in relation to hiring career changers?

Jennifer: During the pandemic, the industry had a unique opportunity to show how flexible it is. We need to promote and talk about this flexibility to career changers as well as the next generation. Last year showed us that we can be at home with family, or helping elderly parents, and still provide great service as entrepreneurs.

Question: How can we attract more women to the industry?

Jennifer: It is important to show women why we love the industry. It is important to show the relationship aspect of the business… what it feels like to help people through planning for their children’s college, or planning elderly care, or even assisting through a divorce. Being a part of that person’s life cycle is rewarding, and we need to share how great that feeling is. 

Question: What are your strategies to attract the NextGen?

Jennifer: The biggest way to attract the next generation of financial advisors is by speaking about what the business really is. It is not what you see in movies, and it’s not really a discussed topic.The reality is this industry is about relationships. 

Another way to attract the NextGen is by offering internships. Especially with the pandemic, many places are no longer offering internships. Unfortunately, many college students need internships to graduate, and the number of internships available is dwindling. By offering internships, these students can receive the credit they need while also experiencing the industry firsthand. As a bonus, their perspective offers the company fresh ideas and someone to bounce ideas off, which will keep your company innovating for the younger generations.

Question: What has the pandemic helped with?

Jennifer: In the past, the thought process was that you need to be seen and you need to be in the office. It used to be “who was the first one in, who was the last one to leave.” The mindset has shifted, and we realize that it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.

We went from working in corporate buildings to working anywhere. This gives the ability for an individual to stay in their state with their family but work for a company far away… something that we haven’t really been able to accommodate before. But that also means that as an employer, you have to work to keep good employees with your company since they have the flexibility to work anywhere.

Question: How successful have you been with recruiting for diversity?

Jennifer: The most important piece of information I have learned from others about recruiting for diversity is that to do it correctly, we need to bring our diverse advisors into the conversation. You can plan all you want, but unless you are bringing in the right people to the conversation, you will simply just be going through the motions.


You can hear all of Jennifer’s thoughts on these topics (along with other amazing women’s ideas) by watching the full panel here:

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About SPS Family

The SPS Family consists of two broker-dealers, Sigma Financial Corporation and Parkland Securities, LLC; a Registered Investment Advisory firm, Sigma Planning Corporation; and a back office, known as BD Ops, LLC. The companies, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, are under common ownership and led by an experienced executive team. The SPS Family prides itself on personal service to independent registered representatives and investment adviser representatives from across the United States. We consider our representatives family as we strive every day to provide them “Independence. DELIVERED.”

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