Women in Financial Services
When I started my first role as a trainee adviser on a 6 month training programme back in 2003, I was the only female on the course with 6 other colleagues. In fact when I completed my training, of the financial planning national sales force, I was only one out of 2 or 3 females.
That was 17 years ago and I am pleased to say that when I left there were considerably more female advisers. However, it still strikes me every time when at an industry training event or conference, the main demographic is white, middle aged and male.
However, looking through the adviser population here in York (through those listed on unbiased.co.uk, an independent website listing of advisers in your area), the proportion of females is still only around 22%. This is higher than what most national estimates are at around 11%, but nowhere near what it should be.
Now I cannot think that many 16 year olds wake up one day and set their hearts on becoming a financial planner, nor would most of them even know the job exists! And that is where we need to start.
The Personal Finance Society are committed to this cause and have over the last 18 months offered their education workshops under the programme My Personal Finance Skills to schools to try and help the next generation understand more about finance and also about the role a financial planner plays.
I have been honoured to deliver some of these sessions to students and the response has been well received.
The stereotypical image of a financial adviser as a man in a pin striped suit trying to flog you a pension has long gone and we have all helped to raise the bar in terms of professionalism and integrity.
These days being a financial planner is becoming more like being a financial coach. Listening is a great skill that a successful adviser needs and women, in particular, are often perceived to have great listening skills. By really listening to what is said and questioning what is not said but inferred, we can fully comprehend your circumstances and understand your goals and objectives.
Several studies have also found that there is a gender difference in how risk is perceived. Of course, there are other factors too that affect one’s risk perception and tolerance. One study in 2006 concluded that men engage in more risky behaviours than women, partially due to women’s greater perceived likelihood of negative outcomes and lesser expectation of enjoyment.
You may well be aware that understanding and managing risk with investment management is a large component of what we do. Therefore having a more cautious approach to managing personal financial outcomes may not be a bad thing.
More and more women are running their own businesses and sitting on boards. More and more women are coming to seek financial advice for various reasons and often women like to work with a female adviser.
The best thing about my job is really making a difference to people’s lives and plans for the future. Seeing these come to fruition over many years and then for their families is so rewarding. There is also the opportunity to work for yourself, moulding your role around other commitments such as your own family life.
To all you budding female financial planners out there, go for it.