Professional women employed in the financial services industry have a friend in a two-year-old California startup called The W Source.
The W Source, a networking company for professional women, is the brainchild of Hannah Buschbom, a partner at Ameriflex, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based wealth management firm.
According to Buschbom, since only 13 percent to 14 percent of advisors nationwide are women, a growing need exists for such an exclusive networking group. She said that because many professional women in the financial services industry are also mothers, wives and caregivers, it is difficult for the them to find the time to network the same way as their male colleagues might do over a game of golf or dinner and drinks.
Buschbom and her business partner, Ameriflex CEO Thomas Goodson, saw an opportunity to give women in the financial services industry a niche networking group. Since launching W Source in September 2017, the networking service has spread throughout the U.S. There are currently 20 networking chapters nationwide, with double that number planned for the future.
According to Nouchee Vang, operations manager for The W Source, chapter locations are established according to a three-tier system based on population size, which determines how many networking chapters can open there and limits competition among them.
A professional woman seeking to open her own networking group in a city that has not yet reached its maximum number would apply to The W Source as a founding chapter head. If approved, she would pay a refundable deposit of $999 to reserve that location as a chapter, which requires at least 20 or more members to qualify as a network.
Buschbom said that the $999 yearly membership fee to join The W Source chapter funds business development resources, training coaches and personnel costs. In addition to monthly networking meetings held by each chapter, mermbers and their services are included in a searchable database on The W Source website, where business owners and their representatives can find a woman that best meets their needs, such as a CPA, attorney or risk management specialist.
Vang said that members viewed the $999 annual membership fee as an investment in their business that pays for itself over time.
“We have seven attorneys in our group in Santa Barbara, but rather than compete with one another, they tend to collaborate,” she said. “They say there’s enough business to go around.”
Another key element of the company’s networking strategy is its corporate partnerships. Since last year, The W Source has partnered with Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker-dealer and asset management firm headquartered in Fairfield, Iowa; The Advisor Group, one of the nation’s largest network of independent broker-dealers, headquartered in Phoenix; and ProEquities Inc., a broker-dealer headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.