In Focus: Advice for Women  

We need to change the view of financial services

Emma Napier

Emma Napier

When I was a teen and thinking about a career, not once did financial services spring to mind.

The term ‘financial services’ is a really broad one. What exactly does that mean – a bank, an estate agent, an accountant?

At that time, I remember being overwhelmed and daunted, but I knew that going into financial services would probably be a good thing to do.

So, hesitantly, I stumbled my way into Crusader Insurance. Before long, I started to discover a little more about personal financial advice and what was involved. I did that, however, with blinkers on for a good few months. 

Nowadays I still tend to talk about financial services as a broad term – I’m not specific and I don’t put myself (very often) into the mind of an industry outsider.

Mostly this is because I am talking to people inside our industry, those like me, who have grown up in this closeted environment. We must change that. 

Broadening the definition of financial services is one thing, we need to be clear, but we also need to break down the belief that financial services is traditionally a male-dominated environment.

If I google 'financial services' images, I get graphs, the stock market and men with laptops. Nothing engaging. Nothing exciting. Why is our industry so beige and square? 

If I put myself in the shoes of a woman looking for financial advice and found myself staring at the ‘man with the laptop’, that image would turn me off straight away.

What I would probably do is carry on googling and work it out myself, while taking out the rubbish and picking up the kids. 

The real point of this is we need to get much better at both engaging the women who are looking for financial advice and, possibly more importantly, women financial advisers.

I believe women do think differently and without sounding too controversial, women can be more pragmatic. 

Women advisers do all the things their counterparts do; the compliance, the fact finding, the risk questionnaire, however, they do it with a different vibe.

What I mean by that is, their approach is just different, more comfortable, informal and to-the-point.

Women seeking advice from women financial advisers usually cite such things as “she smiled” as a reason to engage. So that begs the question of first impressions.  

We are now in a day and age where technology powers everything we do in all walks of life. Tuning technology to make the right first impression is seriously lacking in financial services. 

First impressions are really important in any business.

I want to have the ability to find what I need (because it’s obvious and to-the-point), take myself through a process (because it’s not jargon heavy and irrelevant) and engage verbally or in person at the right time with someone I have taken a quick look at and feel is genuine.