Nancy Prial

Nancy Prial

Co-CEO and senior portfolio manager, Essex Investment Management

Nancy Prial, co-CEO and senior portfolio manager at Essex Investment Management Co., began her career in engineering. As such, she is a fan of looking for potential hires with atypical backgrounds.

“My first firm [in the financial industry] saw potential in me,” she said. “The engineering training helps with decision-making — to make decisions with a limited amount of data and to trust the data.”

Ms. Prial, whose firm oversees funds with $700 million in assets under management, began her career at Frontier Capital Management. She said the culture there was encouraging to women and she believes that thinking differently about recruiting is essential.

“One of the problems in the industry is the lens firms use. They’re looking for what they’re looking for in men,” she said. “They focus on a certain set of credentials that tend to be male-dominated.”

To cultivate an awareness of the financial advisory profession in women, there should be related clubs and activities in college that are inclusive and welcoming to nonfinance majors and financial literacy programs in high school and college, she said.
— Deborah Nason