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InvestmentNews Women to Watch winners work to make an impact


Like mother, like daughter.

Rita Robbins was unable to attend the annual InvestmentNews Women to Watch awards Tuesday evening and receive the Alexandra Armstrong Lifetime Achievement Award. But her daughter, Ali Arnold, stood in for her mother, founder and president of Affiliated Advisors, a giant branch office in the Osaic Holdings Inc. network.

“My mom is so incredible, and having followed her into the financial services industry, I’m so grateful I’ve had her in my life,” Arnold, a vice president of global marketing at Citi, said after the award ceremony. “She’s had the opportunity to make such an impact on so many other people, and that makes me grateful.”

The Alexandra Armstrong Lifetime Achievement Award is named for financial planning pioneer and leader Armstrong, who has spent more than five decades helping women plan strong financial futures and promoting the financial advice business as a top career for women. The award is given annually to one outstanding woman annually in the financial advisory and investment sphere.

In total, 34 women and 13 companies received awards and honors at Tuesday’s event in lower Manhattan for their work across the financial advice and planning industries, in categories ranging from Female Trailblazer of the Year to Portfolio Manager of the Year.

The other Women to Watch winners were: Christine Cappabianca, Portfolio Manager of the Year; Thrivent, Employer of Choice; Brittney Olinger, Rising Star Advisor of the Year; Raymond James & Associates, Excellence in Gender Diversity & Inclusion; Kay Lynn Mayhue, Female Trailblazer of the Year; and Colleen Bell, Allyship Champion of the Year.

“I really do believe it takes all of us to bring other people into our firms and industry,” said Bell, president of innovation and experience at Cambridge Investment Research Inc. “I’ve always had great mentors, like Eric Schwartz and Amy Webber, and I need to pay that back to pay it forward. Empowered women can empower the world.”

“This is such an honor,” said Mayhue, president of Merit Financial Advisors. “I believed in and supported myself throughout my career, and now I get to do that for others. There are so many people who pushed me when I needed a nudge and pulled me up when I needed a hand. Now I get to focus my time on helping others reach new heights!”

“It means a lot to me, but I think it means even more to me being a representative of my company,” said Brittney Olinger, a financial advisor at Koss Olinger. “We’re an independent firm that’s a three-generation strong company out of Gainesville, Florida, and it was our first female partner who put me up for this award. She and all the other partners have been a massive proponent of bringing more women into our space and into our sector, so I’m just really, really honored. I wasn’t expecting it.”

“I love my job, and I’m getting honored for doing something that I love,” said Cappabianca, vice president and portfolio manager for systematic strategies at Impax Asset Management. “It’s great to show that kind of example to my kids, that you can have a job that is an intersection of your skills and passion.”

“We have amazing women and amazing volunteers who put so much of themselves to make sure our program, the mentorship opportunities and career opportunities exist,” said Samantha Trebesch, senior vice president and head of advisor inclusion networks and sustainable investing at Raymond James. “And they bring every single woman who comes to the firm up.”

Rita Robbins looks back on her pioneering career

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