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Ignoring diversity requirements risks isolating half the population

John Barrass

John Barrass

Gender equality remains a serious issue in our profession and has been on the change agenda for several years.

Great strides have been made in light of recognition of the problem and understanding that new developments are needed, but the numbers show that there is more yet to be done. 

Last month, we held the very first Pimfa Wealth of Diversity conference, where numerous members and industry stakeholders came together to identify the personal, social and economic benefits of diverse and inclusive work places, and to share best practice information.

Although women are increasingly accumulating wealth, and creating more now than in previous generations, they are not catered for to the same extent as their male counterparts.

To ignore diversity requirements within organisations risks isolating half of the UK population. 

Meanwhile, the need for women in financial services is greater than ever, as many female clients now want to see not only that ‘they’ are reflected in the people or organisation they work with, but also that the advice they receive comes from someone to whom they can personally relate and who understands their concerns.  

However, without visibility and representation any efforts to attract, connect with and retain women as employees or as potential clients risk being less than fully effective.

As well as being diverse, firms must also be inclusive. Women, as well as men, have to be seen in leadership roles, as role models, and as spokespeople for the industry.

The Pimfa community operates in a specialised field of business which benefits from having skilled and qualified women clearly seen at the interface with clients and running firms and projects from the front.

As in other intellectually and technically demanding sectors, success in the future will depend on attracting new talent, both male and female, from the millennial and 'Z' generations on an inclusive basis, thus securing a pipeline of exciting young professionals to service clients from the next generation.

As a proud signatory of HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter since November 2017, Pimfa has set targets to help ensure that we and our member firms work together as advocates for equality for women working in the financial advice and wealth management sector.

In 2015, research from Virgin Money (Empowering Productivity: Harnessing the Talents of Women in Financial Services) and PwC (Female Millennials in Financial Services: Strategies for a New Era of Talent) found that women made up only 14 per cent of executive committee membership and filled just 10 per cent of all leadership roles across finance.

By 2018 not much had changed, and in a speech by Megan Butler of the Financial Conduct Authority, at the Women in Finance Summit in March that year, she highlighted that around only 13 per cent of FCA-approved individuals in trading firms were women.