Q&A: Mary Quist-Newins on women in business

Mary Quist-Newins has worked in financial services for 27 years, in both corporate leadership and academia. While at The American College of Financial Services in Pennsylvania she started the Center for Women and Financial Services. Currently she is a Certified Financial Planner and president of her business, Moneyweave and president of the National Association of Women Business Owners-Minnesota Chapter (NAWBO). She spoke with the Women’s Press about being an independent business owner.

What is your experience of being a woman business owner?
The financial services industry is very male dominated. In my personal walk I found the industry to be very transactional. My style is to be very planning focused. I find that to be true for many women. It does a disservice to both men and women [if there is only one way]. Women’s and men’s strengths are just different.

Why did you get involved in NAWBO?
Several things set NAWBO apart from other women’s organizations. It is business owner focused. Women tend to be more cautious with risk, we generally want to take calculated risks. So a profile of a woman in NAWBO is that of a risk taker. When you start a business you are taking a risk, having the courage to act on your convictions. They have had to meet payroll and be profitable. There is a real bond between women who have done that.

NAWBO is more than a networking organization. We’ve been active in public policy in the past and will be in the future. Minnesota has the oldest NAWBO chapter, going back 40 years. In 1977 it was a very different landscape. We worked to change legislation so that women were no longer required to have a male as a co-signer on a business loan. At that time, women business owners also became counted in the census. If you are not counted you will never know if you are making progress.

What is on your wish list for women business owners?
No glass ceilings. Women would have equal access to capital and contracts, meaning fewer barriers to growth. And as those issues get solved, more women would be attracted to that risk taking and have the resources to succeed.
FFI: www.nawbo-mn.org