DeLynn’s interest in finance and investments started at an early age. Financial topics were a routine part of her family dinner conversations. Her father, a peanut farmer who was very good at managing money, was also progressive for his time. When he realized he would not have sons, Mr. Moring vowed to ensure his daughters learned about money and finance, which was not always typical at that time, especially in southern households. Through this upbringing, DeLynn thought it normal for girls to be interested in investing. When she realized many women were not brought up this way, she found the saying, “men often talk to their sons about investing and their daughters about saving,” rang a lot of truth.
In college, DeLynn met one of the first female stockbrokers in Birmingham, the advisor to her sorority at Birmingham Southern College, Virginia Bailey. Virginia was one of the biggest producers at Merrill Lynch at the time, and as DeLynn has stated, “she was a force, and I wanted to be like her.” Virginia mentored DeLynn through the last two years of college and served as a critical guide early on in her career as she navigated the investment world.
Another mentor of DeLynn’s was Jackie Tucker, a retired Bridgeworth Co-Founder. Jackie recruited DeLynn to her first financial advising position as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, where they worked together as partners and peers. This peer mentorship, learning from each other and growing into their new space in the male-dominated financial planning industry, was just the beginning of an even bigger dream they shared in starting Bridgeworth.
“Sometimes mentorship can be confused with role models, but both are important. Women need to see other women in the same position and say, ‘I can be that one day.'”– DeLynn Zell, CFP®
In an industry like financial planning and wealth management that has been traditionally male-dominated, it is critical to continue having women mentors. Mentorship for DeLynn has been an intentional focus, including going to local colleges and universities to talk to young women about careers in finance. It also involves making herself available, listening, setting an example, and sometimes having those hard conversations needed to ensure long-term success. DeLynn has concentrated Bridgeworth’s culture to have a pipeline for career growth. Specific career tracks are available to those who want to accelerate, regardless of gender.
Due to life expectancy and other factors, a national wealth transfer is occurring, and an increased number of women are controlling the country’s wealth. Simultaneously, financial planning firms nationwide are trying to hire more female advisors.
You can find DeLynn speaking and attending conferences nationwide where CEOs ask her, “how do you hire women?” Her response, “put women in leadership positions where they can be mentors and role models, and other women are going to gravitate toward them.”
Bridgeworth is at the forefront of the industry with an above-average number of women advisors and women in leadership. When Bridgeworth was founded in 2008, only a handful of women CEOs for wealth management firms existed. Leading this industry shift has been pivotal to Bridgeworth’s success in hiring and retaining women.
Mentorship will continue to be critical to Bridgeworth’s culture and success. We will look at how mentorship has impacted other women at Bridgeworth throughout Women’s History Month.