Decoding a Zoom Background with Katherine Jollon Colsher

Katherine Jollon Colsher has an insider’s perspective on what it means to enter the financial services industry today. Katherine is CEO of Girls Who Invest, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing gender diversity—and inclusion—in investment management. Since 2015, the organization has trained and placed more 1,400 scholars across its summer and online intensive programs in the U.S., the UK and Canada.

 

In her role, Katherine has seen and heard how the next generation of professionals wants to be viewed in the workplace, even as firms try to address homogeneity within their ranks. She shared why big, difficult goals are needed for an industry that isn’t moving fast enough, how Gen Z is keeping it real with their Zoom backgrounds and how to teach business etiquette to students who spent half their college years studying remotely.

 

Future Proof: What is the future you envision at Girls Who Invest? 

 

Katherine Jollon Colsher: Our vision is for 30% of the world’s investable capital to be managed by women by 2030. We’re trying to change the face of investing. We do that through offering education and paid internships to our scholars and long-term career development for our alumni. 

 

We’re essentially trying to change the talent pipeline that investment management firms recruit from, so that they bring in more diverse candidates. Not exclusively with respect to gender, but with respect to perspective, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, educational background and geographic background. We’re really promoting an individual as an individual.

 

FP: How close to that goal of 30% is the industry?

 

Katherine: The industry is at less than 10%. It’s sobering. That’s why we talk about our vision being ambitious. We really need a sense of urgency. We literally can’t move fast enough. 

 

FP: You work with partners to place your scholars at investment management firms. How aware is the industry that they have a problem that needs a solution? 

 

Katherine: The conversation around diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging has shifted over the last few years, which has been very positive. 

 

There has been a tremendous willingness within the industry to be honest and recognize the need to do more. Firms want to bring in more diverse talent and the intention behind that is real. There’s no perfect organization, but it’s clear people want to work at a place that’s committed to evolving. 

 

Some firms are great at recruiting diverse talent in the beginning, but struggle from a retention standpoint. Some firms struggle more in the beginning, but find success further out. Every company is different. We want to help each firm move from where they are to where they want to be.

 

Firms will say, “I don’t really know how to have this conversation.” Or, “I know that there’s plenty of people out there to hire, we’re just not as good at it.” The fact that these discussions are taking place is progress, and it’s pretty cool that they come to us. 

 

That’s why I believe so much in the future, because people are showing that they need help and they’re looking to make a difference, and that’s what Girls Who Invest is all about.

 

Collectively, we want to be moving past moments of hardship and moving towards moments of inclusion and belonging. Change can’t happen fast enough.

 

FP: You have the enviable position of working directly with future leaders, before the rest of the world recognizes them as such. What have you learned about the next generation that’s entering the workforce?

 

Katherine: It’s unbelievably inspiring to work with our scholars and alumni. The world we’re living in is a big responsibility for this generation to bear. 

 

This generation is more comfortable having difficult conversations than potentially previous generations, whether that’s around compensation or workplace culture. That will position them, and all of us, for success. Because there’ll be more transparent conversations in the workplace.

 

They also see an important intersection between personal life and work life, even more so than prior generations. There’s no longer a split between what you do at work to make money versus living your best life at home. People are looking to find value at work—and to be inspired. 

 

FP: How has the pandemic and the acceptability of remote learning and working changed the workplace?

 

Katherine: Work-life balance is already being reconfigured. There’s no expectation that one has to hide their at-home persona from the workplace. There’s an element of people being comfortable talking about what they do off-hours, which is promising to see. We want our scholars to feel comfortable and safe.

 

This is a generation that has gone through their collegiate experience or their early career on Zoom. They’re much more comfortable with not having blurred backgrounds, for example, and they don’t see a need to hide their personality as much as earlier generations may have.

 

The demographic we’re working with has had to adjust so quickly to a blended learning environment and a blended work environment, so they’re ahead of the game when it comes to the future of the workplace. 

 

They realize that life happens. Some days they might have to attend one of our evening sessions from a coffee shop. They’re not going to blur the background and have the coffee shop hidden, because that’s just the reality of their lives. They recognize that other times they want to blur their backdrop because they don’t want people to see their home environment, because it might be too personal and they feel exposed in doing that.

 

FP: How do you approach business etiquette for a cohort that has attended classes online for the past two years? 

 

Katherine: When we talk about “business etiquette,” what we’re really talking about is “readiness.” 

 

When you’re a rising junior, the business world is new. We try to increase awareness about what to wear to the workplace. How to observe how people interact. If you go out to lunch, for example, how do you handle that lunch? What do you order? What do you not order? Whose lead do you follow? Those are all things that you learn over time, but if no one’s ever taken a moment to talk you through that, it’s a really intimidating environment.

 

Our women are very prepared for those moments, but they’re also comfortable asking questions and learning more.

 

FP: The Future Proof Festival is an event that celebrates tough questions. What aspect of the event are you most excited about?

 

Katherine: We’re huge champions of community and the power of community. The Girls Who Invest alumni population is already approaching 2,000 individuals. I’m very excited about the community that’s being built. 

 

The ethos of disruption is really powerful. It’s exciting to think about how to do that, because that’s ultimately what we’re trying to do for the investment management industry at Girls Who Invest.

 

We believe in the strength of bringing people together from all different interests and all different backgrounds. Future Proof is like that by design. It’s intended to be part of the secret sauce and I’m energized by that. 

John Swolfs Advisor Circle

JOHN SWOLFS

John Swolfs is the Chief Content Officer at Advisor Circle, a product studio for growth-oriented financial professionals. John is responsible for creating dynamic programs for Advisor Circle’s world-class events which include Future Proof festival and Exchange, the world’s leading ETF event.

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Attendee Experience

Investopedia Top 100 Financial Advisor Reception

Monday, September 12, 2022 5:00-7:00pm PT
HYATT REGENCY CALIFORNIA COURTYARD

Future Proof brings together the best and brightest advisors from across the country. This exclusive event allows the Investopedia Top 100 advisors to reconnect, share insights and celebrate their achievement of being named to this prestigious list.

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Scoop Ice Cream Parlor & Lounge

Ice cream food truck

Get the latest scoop on pivotal industry topics and current events affecting the wealth space. By leveraging our robust event technology, you’ll have the opportunity to create both peer-led and industry-led roundtable-style discussions. Learn more about the most pressing topics impacting the future of wealth. These hard conversations are made easier as you and your cohorts grab some ice cream and settle in for an informal yet highly engaging conversation.

Future Proof Creator Corner

Woman recording a video for social media

rhe Creator Corner is built to support creators, creatives and brands. It’s equipped with a podcast recording studio and first-of-its-kind Collab Lab. The podcast area will afford attendees the ability to record podcast sessions and will feature podcast consultants helping to answer questions of both existing podcast hosts and aspiring creators. The Collab Lab is where asset managers and fintech companies collaborate with leading and emerging finance influencers. Looking for engaging content built for the modern financial professional or investor? We offer high quality video and audio production for all your creative needs.

Future Proof Live

Production stage setup

Future Proof Live is our full-production broadcast studio strategically placed at the heart of the Boardwalk. Our very own Future Proof anchors will provide all-day commentary featuring casual speakers and celebrity interviews as well as unexpected guest appearances. Future Proof Live extends our one-of-a-kind experience to a larger audience virtually.

PCH Stage

Event attendees listening to a panel discussion

The Pacific Highway stage is the most versatile stage at Future Proof. With countless setup options, the PCH Stage is your go-to spot for industry insight and innovation, all while staying current with the latest trends in money, culture, tech and impact.

Ocean Stage

Concert happening on Huntington Beach

As the beating heart of the boardwalk, the Ocean stage will feature seating for over 500 and have the look and feel of a concert venue on the beach. The ocean stage will host a range of exciting content from industry-changing keynotes to the closing concert featuring today’s biggest musical acts.

Social Audio Experiment

Small crowd listening to performer sing

Podcasts are all the rage, as they excite and entertain audiences from afar. Future Proof changes the game, as we invite your favorite podcasters to host their shows live from the festival. Forget passive listening. Future Proof’s Live Podcast sessions allow you to interact directly with your favorite podcast creators as they record live episodes just feet from the Pacific Ocean.

Brewing Lounge

Coffee bar on Huntington Beach

You can’t expand your perspective and think differently if you aren’t exposed to a broad perspective. That’s why our speaker faculty isn’t limited to traditional finance. The Brewing Lounge will bring out-of-industry experts to present their visions for a new world of wealth. To help fuel the conversations, we’ve created a true coffeehouse feel complete with baristas just waiting to pour you the perfect cup of joe.

Poppin’ Pitch Lounge

Popcorn lounge set up for photo ops

Nobody likes to be pitched, but the truth is we all need a little help keeping up to speed on our dynamic industry. The What’s Poppin’ Pitch Lounge sets the tone, giving you intimate access to short and punchy demos from the most innovative fintech companies in the world. Grab a bag of popcorn, sit back, relax and absorb the next wave of innovation impacting the world around you.

Wheel of Impact

Event attendee enjoying the prize wheel

Future Proof’s Wheel of Impact promotes the power of giving in a fun, dynamic and social way. With a donation of any size, attendees can have the ability to spin the wheel, determining where the donation will go and how it will be used. Land on the “mystery” selection and have a chance to win items, trips and other experiences.

RIA Executive Leaders Reception

Monday, September 12, 2022 6:00-8:00pm PT
Pasea Hotel & Spa

Join 30+ executives from the country’s top-ranked RIA firms for a VIP evening reception.


If you are an executive leader (or owner) of a fast-growing RIA firm and are interested in participating get in touch with us today. Space is extremely limited.

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"Future Proof Closing Night Concert" to become "Future Proof Music Festival"

Tuesday, September 13, 2022 4:30-10:00pm PT
The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

The Future Proof Festival experience roles on as we host our annual music festival. This year’s lineup features an array of artists and musicians covering everything from rock classics to hip hop. Come early and stay late sampling the numerous food trucks and bars. Don’t miss headliners rap legend Big Boi and indie pop sensation Fitz and the Tantrums showcase their talents.* * admission is included with your Future Proof Pass.

"Future Proof Beach Bash" to become "Future Proof Festival Kickoff Party"

Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort

Relax and unwind as you connect with the Future Proof community, as you enjoy and evening of tasty bites, and delicious cocktails as celebrity DJ, DJ Mick sets the vibe as the sunsets on the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Health Is Wealth Center

Yoga mats laid out for workout

Physical and mental health is the cornerstone of any successful long-term wealth plan. But for years, our industry has prioritized work over health, leading to unhealthy lifestyles and employee burnout. The Health Is Wealth Center provides a warm and relaxed setting, allowing attendees to come in and recharge, grab a drink from the juice bar and eat healthy snacks. The space will also be home to daily group yoga and fitness classes as well as meditation sessions.

The Grand Unveil

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Future Proof does nothing small. Join us on Monday morning for the grand unveiling of our half-mile beachfront boardwalk complete with activations, meeting areas, multiple stages, and everything else you need to make your Future Proof experience truly one of a kind.

ONYX Advisor Network Meet Up

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Health is Wealth: Surf Lessons

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We are in Surf City U.S.A – of course we are going to have surf lessions. Whether you are catching barrels are just learning to stand come out be part of the community and tick learning to surf off your bucket list.

Quad A Social

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Media-Only Networking Reception

Sunday, September 11, 20226:00-8:00pm PT
Monday, September 12, 20226:00-8:00pm PT

Join 25+ key financial media, industry reporters, and other press for a media-only evening reception.


If you are a member of the press and are interested in participating get in touch with us today. Space is extremely limited.

As a member of the press, you will have the opportunity to RSVP for both receptions on Sunday and Monday.

Advisor Networking Dinners

Sunday, September 11, 2022 6:00-8:00pm PT Monday, September 12, 2022 6:00-8:00pm PT

Maximize your time at Future Proof by participating in a 10-person advisor networking dinner organized by us and industry partners. Held at popular downtown Huntington Beach restaurants, our organized Advisor Networking Dinners will provide you with a one-of-a-kind culinary experience while making new friends and catching up with old ones. Space is extremely limited. Must RSVP.

Health is Wealth: HIIT

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Just because you are away from home it does not mean you need to miss your workout. Start each day with a HIIT beach workout hosted by the Future Proof communities Jess Bost. * space is limited, preregisteration required

Health is Wealth: Yoga

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Future Proof puts a value on your health and ability to decompress from the grind of festival life. Begin your day with a focus on centering body and mind for a day of meetings, networking, and more.

Health is Wealth: Meditation

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Your mental health is as important as your physical health. Set the tone for each day as you take the time to relax your mind, center your thoughts and prepare yourself for the day ahead.

Storyteller Series: This Is Not Financial Advice

Sunday, September 11, 2022 6:00-6:30pm PT
The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Investing has become mainstream and nowhere is this better encompassed than in the new documentary film This is Not Financial Advice. Join us as we invite the cast and crew for an open conversation on the mindset of today’s investors, and take a closer look at investing as a cultural phenomenon and show clips from the movie.

All Access: Fitz & The Tantrums

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Join your fellow peers for an all access experience with indie pop sentation Fitz and the Tantrums. This excluisve event is a can’t miss experience for any music fan.

FintechX Demo Drop

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Social Audio Experiment:
EYL Presents Market Mondays

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Cultural icons and financial influencers Earn Your Lesuire host their wildly popular Market Mondays Show live from the Future Proof stage. This can’t miss sessions ties together market events and education to help investors be better invested.

Social Audio Experiment: Bloomberg's Masters in Business Live

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Hear podcast legend and host of Masters In Business Barry Ritholtz for a can’t miss live recording of the most influential podcast covering the world of business.

Social Audio Experiment:
Invest Like the Best Live

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Recgonized as one of if not the most influential podcasts Invest Like the Best records live from Future Proof. Join host Patrick O’Shanunessy and his guest for indepth look at the markets, investing and the world of business.

Social Audio Experiment: Bloomberg Sports Live

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

The world of sports is more than just the games. In this unique session, Bloomberg Chief Corresponded Jason Kelly hosts financial advisorJoe Mclean and his superstar sports clients for an in-depth look at the changing world of sports and why more athletes are embracing investing and building wealth beyond the court.

All Access: Big Boi

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Future Proof is all about experiences. Rub shoulders with Big Boi in this invite-only meet & greet in the Future Proof green room.