Welcome to the official blog of WIFS!

LeadHER highlights hot topics that impact women in the profession, the latest WIFS news, and important industry updates. We invite our members and industry thought leaders to submit articles to be featured in upcoming monthly LeadHER blog posts. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you're interested in providing an article.

Hawley Woods Gray

April is designated as National Volunteer Month and we thought this would be a great opportunity to talk to one of our members about the importance of volunteerism personally and professionally.
Hawley Woods Gray is managing VP of Appreciation Financial, founder of Women of Wealth (WOW), and education director on the national board of Women in Insurance and Financial Services. She is also a wife, mother, and former Division one volleyball athlete. A constant thread running through Hawley’s many roles is volunteerism and mentorship.
Hawley has been active as a volunteer throughout her life, first through athletics, then as a parent on the volleyball court, and as a professional in the financial services industry. 

She successfully translated the skills she learned through sports into the realm of professional life through business coaching and mentoring. Her time spent volunteering as a coach for young athletes and for women new to the financial services industry has been beneficial to both mentees and budding athletes, as well as reaping benefits for Hawley in her own career.

“I’ve been able to take the traits used and skills learned as an athlete and use them in guiding and mentoring my team at Appreciation Financial.”

Among many other accomplishments, these learned skills precipitated the creation of WOW, as well as a book she co-authored with colleague Carrie Yukich, Push Through, available through Amazon.
“Women have different needs in the workplace than men, while still functioning in a high stress job,” explained Hawley.
The WOW program was created in response to the lack of women at the top at Appreciation Financial. In the five years since she created the program, Hawley has amassed a portfolio of training, mentoring and support tools, which have been used to meet the unique needs of women in the workplace.

As a WIFS mentor, Hawley uses those tools – as well as the many programs and services available to WIFS members – to help women tackle industry challenges, including the lack of diversity and inclusion in many workplaces, and focusing on issues such as setting boundaries, learning when it is more important to say “No,” and ‘pushing through’ the tough stuff to achieve success in the industry.
Why is this important? The answer is in the numbers.

“With more women creating wealth in their lives, they want other women to help them manage it,” says Hawley. She adds that Appreciation Financial services women and men in the field of education, and she reminds us that 91% of those educators are women. By offering women in financial services the tools to be successful and remain in the industry, Hawley and her sister volunteers and mentors help WIFS fulfil its mission to attract, advance and develop women in the workplace, where they can cater to the growing number of female creators of wealth.

Volunteerism also creates opportunities that might not be immediately apparent. Hawley met the CEO and founders of Appreciation Financial while she was volunteering for another organization during an event in Las Vegas. Ten years later, as the managing VP, Hawley continues to volunteer, support and mentor others. She is currently completing her second year as a member of the WIFS National board.
In short, volunteerism can be both personally fulfilling and professionally impactful, for both the volunteer and the recipient. If you are just starting out in your career, or you’ve recently switched careers, now may be a great time to explore the volunteer and mentoring opportunities available. You may be pleasantly surprised by what it does for you, both personally and professionally.

For more information about WIFS’ mentoring program. Or contact the WIFS National office – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – to learn more.


You may not be familiar with the term “servant leadership,” but, as the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said on a very different topic, you’ll know it when you see it.

Despite its vaguely biblical sound, “servant leadership” was coined a mere half-century ago by Robert K. Greenleaf (1904-1990), who, over a 40-year career at AT&T, became disillusioned with the traditional authoritarian leadership model found in most corporations and institutions.

In 1964 he retired from AT&T and founded the Center for Applied Ethics – now the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership -- to research alternatives, and in 1970 published an essay, “The Servant as Leader,” in which the term “servant leadership” made its debut.

By Quincy Krosby, Ph.D.

Every so often, the famous warning from former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan on Dec. 5, 1996 — “How do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions?” — resurfaces in a much simpler form: The market is forming a bubble similar to 1999.

Back then, it was a period of intense optimism, in which profits didn’t matter; it was a dot-com boom regardless of what came before the dot. It was the “New Paradigm” — until it wasn’t. As the Greenspan Fed began raising rates in 1999 and 2000 — Jan. 1, 1999, the 10-year Treasury was 4.72%; Jan. 1, 2000, the 10-year Treasury was 6.66% — in order to ward off potential inflationary pressures stemming from the strong economy, market strategists continued to stress that the technology sector, for the most part, was immune to higher rates.

By Marc Kiner, CPA

We emphasize Situational Social Security in the National Social Security Advisor (NSSA®) Certificate program, as all your clients are unique. Your clients may be single, married with wide age differences, married with narrow age differences, divorced, surviving spouses, eligible to file a Restricted Application, public employees, etc. Advisors (you), must understand the issues and questions that relate to every unique client. You are your clients' trusted advisor and must understand Social Security.

My partner, Jim Blair, worked for the Social Security Administration for 35 years and retired in January 2010. Jim and I began our journey together at that time to help folks to understand and maximize their Social Security benefits. In January 2013, we created the National Social Security Advisor Certificate program. To date, 2,500 advisors across the country have earned the NSSA® certificate.

In this installment of Situational Social Security (SSS), we will discuss Social Security benefits relating to divorced individuals.

By Estella Reyna Kierce

My name is Estella Reyna Kierce and I was born in San Antonio, Texas. I attended the University of the Incarnate Word, where I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. I have been married to Steiner Charles Kierce for 52 years and we have two children and two grandsons: Carolyn (Andy) Weiblen, Blane (13 years old) and Steiner (Diane) Carl Kierce, Steiner Caldwell (9 years old).

I was a schoolteacher in Alice, Texas, where my husband worked as a biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife. It was there that a State Farm agent introduced me to his manager. Little did I know that in the early ’80s, all of the large insurance companies were recruiting women. So in 1980, I became the first Hispanic female agent for State Farm in Texas, and we moved the family to Laredo where we knew no one, but I spoke Spanish. Remember, I had no sales experience except selling Girl Scout cookies at 50 cents a box.