A wirehouse broker in Arizona has a job most mothers — to say nothing of everyone else — would die for. She works a 30-hour week, allowing her to drop off her children at school and pick them up in the afternoon. Supporting her is a team of two registered sales assistants, a marketing assistant and an intern. As if that's not enough, she's job hunting and, among other things, looking for more freedom.

While she's not your typical advisor — male or female — what's important to the Arizona broker is characteristic of many women, especially mothers. Money counts, of course, but beyond the basic financial-package considerations, women are looking for a compatible culture, flexibility and independence.

Some firms provide programs geared towards meeting women's wants and needs. Goldman Sachs has a backup childcare center for use when regular arrangements break down or are unavailable. Raymond James has an annual conference for its female brokers. Attendees meet industry analysts, hear about new products and technology and, most importantly, have an opportunity to network with other female brokers. Ryan Beck recently began a mentoring program for women advisors and also looks for ways to link them up with other female representatives.

Working Mother magazine updates readers on services and programs many brokerage firms are providing for women. Go to: workingmother.com and click on “100 best companies” for a list that includes 12 of the nation's top brokerage firms and banks.

The Right Fit

Flexibility is often something that can be earned over time, but not something that can be negotiated upfront during the recruiting process. The Arizona broker is finding that out since, despite annual production of more than a $1 million and a $150 million in assets under management, she hasn't found a firm ready to give her what she wants, though she is looking hard to find it.

One alternative may be to leave the wirehouse world. One successful female wirehouse broker, producing over $400,000 annually, chose to become independent when planning to adopt a child recently. She needed a lot of flexibility as she took on the responsibilities of motherhood and, as a single mother, did not think she could get it from her firm even though they said they were comfortable with her requests for flexibility. She chose to move, relying on her gut instinct that going independent would allow her to free up time when she needed to, more so than she could at the wirehouse.

The importance for women of having both flexibility and support can be seen in the experience of another mother — who found out the hard way. A New York wirehouse advisor, she produced $800,000 annually and managed $82 million without a team, until she fell out of touch with her clients after a problem pregnancy forced her into an extended bed rest. By the time she returned to work, she had lost a third of her business. It was only then that she formed a team.

Women are relationship-driven. In reality, many brokerage firms have not caught up with the needs of women and have not learned to harness the production and energy that they can bring to a brokerage. As a female broker looking to make a career move, do your homework. Networking programs for women at a firm are a good barometer that the firm is supportive of women. When exploring new firms, a woman should insist on speaking with other women brokers to hear about their first-hand experiences. Take time and search until it “feels” right — in your head and in your gut.

Writer's BIO: Mindy Diamond founded Chester, N.J.-based Diamond Consultants, which specializes in retail brokerage and banking recruiting www.diamondrecruiter.com