Top 10 Professional Networks for Women in Finance

By Marian Schembari (New York City)

The great thing about being a woman in a man’s world is that it brings us closer together. The glass ceiling is difficult and annoying, but women in finance are so scarce that the connections made with each other are usually strong and supportive.

This is why we at The Glass Hammer have put together a list of great associations specifically designed for the ever-so-inspiring women who have taken on the financial world. Some with chapters around the world, others entirely based on the web, we give you (in no particular order) the top 10 networks for women in finance:

  1. Women’s Bond Club
    Based in: New York
    One of the oldest of its kind (est. 1921), the Bond Club focuses on mentoring and education. Events range from community service to resume workshops. Their relationships with significant corporations and non-profits help support women in the field. Membership is diverse, with women holding jobs in consulting and technology, all in the area of finance.
  2. European Professional Women’s Network
    Based in: Paris, but established for women all over the EU
    EPWN has on-line networking that links professional women across Europe. Their greatest resource is their report entitled “Think Tank,” an exceptional source of career advice, commentary and public policy listed by country.
  3. Financial Women’s Association
    Headquartered in: New York
    FWA focuses on bringing accomplished women together to recognize each other’s achievements, trade information and improve one another to become the best in their fields. Past president, Kristin McDonough, says, “Seasoned FWA members say that exposure to this richer network has resulted in consulting engagements, client referrals, emerging opportunities, and the courage to leap from the corporate into both the entrepreneurial arena or not for profit administration.”
  4. 100 Women in Hedge Funds
    Based in: London, but members are from all over the world
    A global association of more than 10,000 women, 100 Women in Hedge Funds focuses on education progression and philanthropy.
  5. Women on Wall Street
    Based in: New York
    Sponsored by Deutsche Bank, WOWS is an event rather than an organization. They host a conference in New York featuring great keynote speakers, usually top women at places like Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank.
  6. Women’s Ecommerce Association
    The mission of WECAI is “To Help Women do Business on the WEB!” Entirely web-based, they focus on networking as the best tool for business. Founder, Heidi Richards Mooney, told me, “Networking in its purest form is simply opening a dialog that when done right can lead to a long-lasting relationship.  Women are great dialog starters and relationship builders, knowing the end result will be a new friend, colleague or customer. And isn’t that what we all want out of networking?” 
  7. City Women’s Network
    Based in: London
    For those of you unfamiliar with London, The City is their Wall Street equivalent. CWN states that they aim to: “provide a strong network of contacts” that generally continued growth of professional women in London.
  8. Women in the City
    Based in: London
    Also City-based, this organization aims to raise the profile of senior level professional business women working in London’s business hubs and the impact they have in leading teams, developing talent, supporting the progress of women in the wider business world, and contributing to the economy. Founded by networking expert Gwen Rhys, Women in the City creates opportunities that bring together like-minded women. Its highly sought after annual awards recognize women who support the progress of other women in their sector and in the wider business world. WIC also organizes an annual lunch, symposium and produces a magazine, Cutting Edge
  9. Financial Women International
    Headquartered in Minnesota, with members across the United States
    FWI consists of almost 1,000 women across the country who hold executive-level positions in finance and banking. The organization offers a variety of leadership courses as well as the usual networking, conferences and research. Not just a support network, FWI focuses mainly on helping women in the industry become better leaders – improving their organizations and furthering their own personal success.

  10. Forté Foundation
    Based in: Austin, TX, but events are all over.
    Forté is a seriously influential organization for women (database of 45,000 members). The Foundation has teamed up with business schools and major corporations to support and increase the number of women in business. While aimed at female professionals everywhere, they have a new (and successful) Financial Services FAST Track conference.  In regards to networking, the Director of School Relations, Sara Nordhoff said, “Forté is a big believer in the power of networking, particularly for women.  Effective networking grows your business, your professional capital, and your career options.  It also builds your web of mentors and advocates that can help propel your career forward. Forté’s mission is to address this inequality and substantially increase the number of women business leaders by increasing the flow of women into key educational gateways and business networks.”

Don’t be discouraged if we haven’t listed a group near you since many of these organizations have various chapters. For example, the Women in Finance Association in Queensland, Australia is a great resource for you ladies on that side of the globe.

That said, if you’re not a member of a similar organization, you should seriously consider joining. These groups are great resources. Most of these sites have employments listings tailored specifically for women. Also, as a member, you’re provided with a huge amount of invaluable connections. In a tight-knit community these references can provide advice, job opportunities and mentoring.

If you are so inclined, events are a terrific way to hone your skills and meet new people. Many networks host debates, brunches and workshops. You can become a bigger part of the financial community without being subjugated to the discouragement of a man’s world. What’s the downside?