The Role of Key4Women Certified Advisors
How can a Key4Women® Certified Advisor help you? Let us count the ways. They have studied, trained and tested and they are here to help you, a woman business owner. We spoke with Analisha Gois, Greater Hartford Branch Manager, Key4Women Co-Chair and Certified Advisor to discuss all things Certified Advisors.
- Key4Women Certified Advisors are located in every KeyBank market and are passionate (with a capital P) about guiding women business owners.
- Certified advisors are deeply entrenched in branch communities.
- Certified advisors partner locally and regionally with other women-centric organizations to bring women entrepreneurs business solutions.
Q: Can you tell us about the role of Key4Women Certified Advisors?
Gois: Sure. Let’s look at Key4Women (K4W) first because that is the program that Certified Advisors support. Key4Women is a complimentary program offered by KeyBank that is focused on helping women entrepreneurs and leaders achieve their personal and business financial goals. Members get exclusive access to the latest insights, advice and events to help them grow. KeyBank started this program over 15 years ago and it currently serves over 7,000 women-owned businesses.
K4W members also have exclusive access to Key4Women Certified Advisors, who are a team of experts from across all lines of business at Key – from tellers to relationship bankers and branch managers. These advisors complete the K4W Certified Advisor curriculum, along with a test, that confirms their understanding and commitment to helping women achieve financial confidence. In other words, Certified Advisors provide advice, resources within KeyBank and networking within their communities to help women achieve financial wellness.
Q: The Key4Women program with Certified Advisor assistance has the opportunity to be life-changing for women entrepreneurs. Why is Key investing so much in this category?
Gois: First, KeyBank has a deep commitment to the communities we serve. Our bank is heavily involved in supporting the growth of small businesses, encouraging volunteerism and participating in philanthropy to help local communities thrive. Key4Women is a logical extension of that philosophy.
Second, Key recognizes that women play integral roles within communities – they are leaders, nurturers and essential relationship builders, all great qualities of entrepreneurs. Yet, studies show that women business owners, and especially minority women, are often underserved and underfunded by the financial institutions they work with.
KeyBank is working to change this by building a powerful network of support for women in the communities we serve. This structure is solidly in place with the evolution and growth of the Key4Women program. To entrench in communities, Key4Women Certified Advisors work locally to connect the dots for women coming in to do their banking or to inquire about any aspect of starting a business. It’s a passion for Certified Advisors to create a welcoming environment to answer questions women have and to help find answers – even outside of KeyBank – that will help women business owners and entrepreneurs become successful.
Q: As a Key4Women Certified Advisor, can you share an example of how you work with women entrepreneurs?
Gois: It’s important to mention that the Key4Women program is customizable by region and community. In Hartford, Connecticut, our offering may be different from other KeyBank regions. This ensures we tailor the program to the needs of our community and develop relationships with the most applicable partner organizations with a like-minded mission of supporting women in business. The upside for business owners is that Key4Women Certified Advisors do the outreach and initiate relationships in our regions so that business owners don’t have to do all of the research on their own.
For example, in the Hartford area, one of our partner organizations is the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC), which provides no-cost business advice to small business owners and entrepreneurs. They offer comprehensive business resources, tools and training. If a woman comes into our branch and says, “I want to start a business, but I don’t know what to do,” we start with the basics. Along with services offered by the CTSBDC and other organizations, we can often move that entrepreneur one step closer to building her dream business.
Other organizations we typically partner with nationally and regionally are the National Association of Women Business Owners, Women for Economic and Leadership Development, Women’s President Organization, SCORE and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council among others.
Q: What do you like most about being a Key4Women Certified Advisor?
Gois: To observe an entrepreneur you have worked with for months achieve their dream is a powerful reward for the work I do each day. It makes me proud. It makes me want to do more of it.
It’s important for women to know that the Key4Women program gives Key4Women Certified Advisors the permission and the training to spend the time to dig in and find the answers for business owners. Certified Advisors are trained in how to do this, and we have the passion and personal drive to help women be successful on their journey. We are in it for the long haul. There’s nothing else like it, really.