• Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

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More must be done to attract women into finance roles

Kirsty GraingerA firm of independent financial planners has said that the sector needs to be more proactive in addressing the shortage of female talent in finance.

In response to a journalist who asked her about women’s strength in times of crisis, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, once remarked that “If Lehman Brothers had been “Lehman Sisters,” today’s economic crisis clearly would look quite different.” Indeed, studies in ‘neuroeconomics’ since the crash have shown that women are less likely than men to take excessive risks.

And yet there is still a gap in the sector, according to new FCA data. A Freedom of Information requested submitted by Money Marketing in June revealed that only one in 10 advisers is female.

The answer to the problem, according to the female finance experts at independent financial planning and investment management firm Gale and Phillipson, is not as simple as employing positive discrimination tactics.

Kirsty Grainger, Operations Manager for the firm’s Dynamic Cash Management service, said: “In my early career in the workplace and when attending financial services events I found myself surrounded by all male colleagues. However from my experience I found that some clients would prefer to meet a female adviser, so I found myself asking why there were so few.

“From the point of view of an outsider looking in, I can see why people think it’s a gender issue. But you only have to look at the recent wealth of talent at the top to see that it’s becoming less and less so.

“As well as Lagarde, there are a number of prominent international figureheads – we’ve got Janet Yellen at the head of the US Federal Reserve; former chief executive of Westpac Gail Kelly, who was named by Forbes as the most powerful woman in finance in Australia; and Ana Botin, the chair of Santander Group, who was the first woman to run a major British bank. And that’s just for starters.”

Investment manager Isabel Howdle was featured in this year’s CityWire Wealth Manager Top 30 Under 30 list of rising stars in the finance sector.

25-year-old Isabel said: “Angelica Carr, one of the company directors, has been a big influence on my career in particular. She is a business coach and she has given me invaluable insight and advice. One of the biggest barriers to attracting new talent to the finance industry now is the way the sector itself is perceived. Despite the requirement for a professional qualification, the industry lacks the credibility of becoming a doctor, an accountant or a lawyer.

“The gender gap doesn’t just exist at the top, I have recruited for several entry level roles and have been struck by how few female candidates have applied. Until more young women view economics and finance degrees as a viable option, we are likely to continue seeing an unbalanced intake and perpetuate the idea that the industry belongs to men.”

Wealth planning adviser Sandra Sanderson has spent her whole career in financial services, having previously been a building society manager before joining Gale and Phillipson in 1998. When she first came into post, Sandra was the only female building society manager in the Yorkshire region – and only one of two in the country.

Sandra said: “Financial planning is so important to ensure people are able to protect the needs of their family. It’s one of the longest professional relationships you are likely to experience and we would normally expect to advise a private client throughout their working life and into retirement.

“Bodies such as the Chartered Insurers Institute and the Institute of Financial Planners need to do more to make the financial planner role more attractive to young women in education as they start to plan their future careers. But, it’s not a quick fix.

“It will be a slow process – the vast majority of IFAs are in their late 40s and 50s, and even once qualified, it takes a new recruit about three years to get into a firm and learn the working processes – so we know the changes won’t come overnight. It will take time for new talent to emerge. As a business, I think that Gale and Philipson is already fairly progressive in this respect – 30% of advisers in our workplace are female.

By admin