WiRC Together Again
With great expectations comes real-life challenges—in this case, the rain kept us from enjoying a rooftop reunion. So instead we moved to the Oceanside Ballroom. It was full of amazing views and no high winds, proving challenges can lead to even better outcomes.
Once the excitement of being back in person subsided, we started with our theme for our time together: “Intentional Networking” led by co-WiRCer Jessica Fox. Jessica was brought back by popular demand
from our Third Thursday event last June.
In her session, attendees were encouraged to find another person in the room they had not met and ask two questions: “what do you do?” and “what is your passion?” There was a brief moment of panic in everyone’s eyes as they realized they were going to have to go mingle with someone they had never spoken to after two years of sitting at home
in their pajamas. Surprisingly, this exercise gave everyone the tools
to jump into action, find a buddy, and start networking. We learned that those two questions made the conversation flow easily; by the time we needed to move on to dinner,
it was hard to quiet the room. Thankfully, we were able to continue with our intentional networking exercise during dinner.
Once at dinner, the second round of panic set in, with assigned seating at the tables. Using our new intentional networking skills, the conversations were overflowing.
However, the evening did not end there: there were optional activities to get out and enjoy Fort Lauderdale, including the famous Elbo Room, conversations and cocktails at the hotel bar, and ice cream on the beach.
With 80 first-time co-WiRCers, it was important for us to make attendees feel welcome and included even if they didn’t know anyone else in attendance. It is always intimidating to go to large industry events and having to scramble to find someone to have dinner with
so you don’t have to eat alone! There was no such worry at
WiRC—the entire event is programmed so that
attendees can continue their days together and have activities planned to build conversations,
continue learning, and inspire collaboration efforts
going into each evening. Hopefully, at your next industry
event, you will have a connection with someone you met at WiRC!
What is WiRC?
The Women in Retirement Conference was created by combining two existing events: NAPA Connect and ASPPA’s Women’s Business Leaders Forum. Now, in our fifth year, all
five ARA sister organizations (ASEA, ASPPA, NAPA, NTSA and PSCA) are involved. Clearly, the ARA champions women’s initiatives.
This is the place where we come together to learn and grow as we
work to help Americans work toward their retirement goals. In our group you will find actuaries, advisors, CPAs, HR professionals, broker dealers
and home office team members, plan sponsors, service providers, TPAs, recordkeepers and relationship managers. We operate with one voice and one goal: the professional growth of women in the retirement services industry and the manifestation of the next generation.
We started our first full day with speakers and sessions to continue to connect and collaborate as a group.
Vision and Dreams
L’areal Lipkins started us off with a session on “Helping Executive Women
Achieve Their Biggest Dreams.” Her session gave us the tools to become clear about our vision and why that’s • important. She also led us through aworkshop to set goals that align with that vision. This generated a mindset to help us focus on what really matters!
Policy and Legislation
Next, we heard from Kelsey Mayo and the Government Affairs team on how policy and legislation can affect the way we service and administer retirement plans. This led to a lively conversation about how policy and legislation can affect participants—especially women and minorities. This really got the room engaged, and it was great to hear the perspectives of other attendees on why new policies matter.
Council for Women Panel
The ARA Council for Women joined us on stage after lunch for a panel discussion about “Pathways to Leadership and Navigating Growth.” The Council is made up of one representative from each of the ARA sister organizations:
Lynn M. Young, EA, MSEA
Pinnacle Plan Design, LLC
Shannon M. Edwards, ERPA, QPA, QKA, APA, APR
TriStar Pension Consulting
Nicole Corning, CFP®, CRPC®, AIF®
Buckman & Corning Financial Strategies Group, Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network
Kristine J. Coffey, CPC, CPFATM, CRES
executive vice president
CPE Associates, Ltd. SOUTHWEST and MIDWEST, International Consulting
Michelle R. McGovern, CPSP
Strategic Operations, People and Culture;
Human Resources and Operations, American College of Surgeons
The ARA Council for Women provides coordinated solutions to women currently in or seeking to join the retirement industry, including events, leadership, mentoring, education and advocacy. The Council is designed to support, strengthen and educate industry professionals who work with ARA on matters affecting women. It was insightful to hear from women who have been successful in the industry how they have navigated their careers.
We ended the day with Darlene Flagg, NTSA’s 2021 President, who spoke
to us about being a better leader and team player for yourself and other women in the retirement industry.
She also shocked us with some eye- opening statistics about the buying power that women have and why we should focus on selling to women. For example, women:
• control $31.8 billion in global spending;
• account for over 90% of purchases for new homes, food, vacations and OTC pharmaceuticals; and
• account for over 80% of health care purchases and bank accounts.
With all this buying power, women are equipped to make financial decisions, but they still fall short when it comes to saving for retirement.
As an industry, we need to focus on women to ensure they are able to retire!
After our jam-packed day, we needed to “un-wine.” We walked over to the nearby Wine + Garden, a little Italian restaurant where we did a wine tasting and enjoyed dinner under the beautiful string lights in their courtyard. We were able to indulge in conversation and share some Instagram-worthy photo ops. It was a perfect way to end the day.
Friday started with sunrise yoga on the roof. It was a little chilly even for us midwestern girls, but proved to be an amazing way to start the last day of the conference. Thank God there was a Starbucks on the first floor.
Plan Sponsor Council
Up first was WiRC Committee member Gabrielle Turner, CPSP.
This was her first WiRC conference representing PSCA, our newly added sister organization. Gabrielle shared insights about her passion: helping people feel included, understood and cared for in order to reach their full potential in an organization. She encourages meaningful corporate culture through recognizing diversity, fostering open communication,
and building relationships with her employees. It is always great to hear another perspective when it comes to servicing the workforce of America.
After a quick break, we were back
to hear from Deborah Shames, co- founder of Eloqui. She helped us hone our presentation skills and to seize every opportunity and aspire to new heights. Deborah coaches individuals to identify their strengths, utilize their authentic voice, and drive business. Here’s a pro tip from Deborah: Eat grapes to stay hydrated during public speaking. (Sadly, she wasn’t referring to the fermented grapes from the night before.)
Wrapping up the 2022 conference, Pat Wenzel, Immediate Past President
of NAPA, moderated a conversation with U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar. Rep. Salazar represents Florida’s 27th Congressional District and
is a champion of women’s and immigrants’ rights. She encouraged all the co-WiRCers in the room to get involved in their local politics, no matter what the party, so their voices are heard! With her unique style and energy, Rep. Salazar is a forceful presence in Congress. It was an inspiring way to wrap up our last session of the conference.
As we look back and reflect on our time together, we always like to
provide our co-WiRCers actionable takeaways that can be incorporated into their daily routine. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from this year’s event:
• Get clear about your long-term vision and dreams
- Set goals that align with your vision
- Your results reflect your routine
- Think about roadblocks you may
- encounter before you hit your
- goal and how to handle them
- Be okay with asking for and
- accepting help
- The best goals are the ones you
- have to grow into
- Never stop learning
- Always take a woman with you
- Be authentic, be persuasive, be
- When speaking, know your
- Lean on your partners
- Identify and create policies,
- processes and programs that reflect the unique culture of your company
- Be a champion for women
- Get involved locally and be a
- And always double-check the size
- of your panty hose
- As we ended our last session and took the stage as co-chairs one last time, we couldn’t help but think about how amazing it has been to see this conference grow into the event that
it has become! Looking around the room at all the amazing women who are going above and beyond to serve their clients and help Americans retire was outstanding!
- The community that has developed because of WiRC is amazing. You could tell how special it was to meet in person, connecting with friends who were made virtually and creating new connections that developed from our intentional networking. Those new connections were undeniable as we watched everyone join together and say goodbye to their newfound co-WiRCers before they left.
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