The financial services industry is one that has a long and illustrious tradition, although historically men have hugely outnumbered the women working in it.
Among the various branches of financial services, financial advice is one profession that boasts flexibility and is often seen as a popular choice for women, especially those who are busy mothers.
But how female-friendly is the financial advice industry?
“Being a financial adviser is probably one of the best roles for being a busy mother who still wishes to actively keep up a career,” says Hannah Owen, financial planner at Quilter.
She explains the flexibility is fantastic as much of the work can be done at any time. For example, completing paperwork and admin on cases, finding quotes, completing research and keeping abreast with industry news can all be done whenever a mother’s diary allows.
Marlene Outrim, managing director at Uniq Family Wealth, echoes this view.
“[Financial advice] is extremely flexible for women. When I started I was 40 and I had a young child who was 10, and I was a single mother as well at that time. I managed to run the business, see my clients and cope with all the childcare and looking after the home as well.”
However, not everyone agrees that financial advice is a flexible industry for women.
Anna Sofat, chartered financial planner and founder of Addidi Wealth, says: “The financial advice industry isn’t flexible towards most people, least of all busy mothers. There is a culture that has been adopted from corporate America and the effects on employees is ugly.”
- Financial advice is considered to be a flexible career choice for women.
- Data shows women are more likely than men to experience challenges balancing work and family.
- Some women have set up their own businesses in pursuit of greater flexibility.
A report by McKinsey in 2018 – Closing the gap: Leadership perspectives on promoting women in financial services – found that an ‘ambition gap’ persists in financial services, even among women at senior levels.
The report revealed half of senior-level women cited the “inability to balance family and work” as a major reason for not wanting to pursue executive roles.
“This finding is perhaps not surprising, given the fact that as women’s responsibilities at work increase with seniority, they largely maintain their responsibilities at home,” the report stated.
Flexible working can help, but some advisers believe flexibility should revolve around consideration to both busy mothers and fathers.
Jeannie Boyle, chartered financial planner and executive director at EQ Investors, says: “I think the key is to make sure that flexibility is available to everyone – for working mothers to be successful we need the working fathers to be carrying their share of the mental load.
“We need to talk about family-friendly working practices rather than female-friendly working practices.”
This point is echoed by Kay Ingram, director of public policy at LEBC Group.
She says: “Mothers who want a career in any field need to seek employers who offer flexibility, but more importantly, need a partner who sees her career as being as important as their own and is willing to share childcare responsibilities.