Diversity and Inclusion  

The other SJP: How advisers can help with diversity and inclusion

The other SJP: How advisers can help with diversity and inclusion
 Photo: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

If you think there is nothing you can do to help boost diversity and income in your business, sector and industry, think again.

The need for new blood in the financial advice industry is clear. But where will the next generation of talent come from?

And will these newcomers be able to connect with the growing numbers of wealthy millennials and Generation Z clients-in-the-making, and reflect their experiences?

At the moment, there are some obvious gaps. Randstad’s ‘Paying Attention’ report in 2018 revealed only one in 10 management jobs in the UK are held by members of the black, Asian and ethnic minority community. 

Within financial services, the numbers are even lower, something the regulator noted in 2016 as well as vowing to set an example itself.

That year the Financial Conduct Authority set a target of having 8 per cent of senior employees identifying as Black, Asian or other ethnic minority by 2020, and 13 per cent by 2025 .

But as of March 2017 representation levels FCA’s senior leadership team stood at just 2 per cent - down from 3 per cent in 2016. While this percentage is on the rise again, there is still more to be done across the board. 

Similarly, Black and minority ethnic lawyers make up approximately 21 per cent of the total qualified lawyer population. Yet only around 5 per cent of qualified solicitors in the UK are of Black heritage, as listed in the 2020 diversity statistics and findings by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.

If one looks at the make-up of Britain in 2021 there is a far greater diversity among Britons, and the professional services that serve people ought to reflect the nationhood of the UK better. 

Part of this is in providing routes into the professional services industry that avoid the traditional old boys' networks and instead focus on candidates who might otherwise not have had a way in. And from advisers' perspective, the opportunities to help do not stop there.

Wednesday at Five

Law graduate Samuel Clague founded the Stephen James Partnership, the UK's only Black-owned legal recruitment firm.

Initially SJP was set up to help graduates find work in the legal sector, but has later broadened out into financial services recruitment. 

"In the past couple of years I have tried to do more for the Black community", he said, "giving people an opportunity and access into the industry."

He started to offer free drop-in sessions for those wanting to explore a career in law or financial services, handing out his personal mobile phone for calls between 5pm and 6pm on a Wednesday, earning the nickname the 'Wednesday at Five Club'.

But the sheer volume of people approaching Clague gave him pause for thought. "I wanted to give people CV advice or interview help, but some of the feedback was that people from the Black community were struggling to get into law, into financial services - struggling to get a foot in the door.