Opinion  

How can we encourage more women into our industry?

Dawn Patrick

Dawn Patrick

As a female IFA with a successful business and the work/life balance I always aimed for, I wanted to understand why more women do not do this job or indeed why there are still a high number of women in lower paid roles. 

The flexibility of a job where you don’t need to be chained to your desk from nine to five is brilliant if you have children. When you are working for yourself, you control your own diary, have better earnings potential and can work during your most productive hours, even if that’s 7am or 9pm.

So, how can we attract a wider range of advisers into the industry to break our stereotypical view of middle-age salesman as advisers? How can we move away from product-driven outcomes and towards beneficial financial planning? That’s simple. We need to start recruiting and training the next generation and changing the habits of some of the current generation. 

Female business owners are realising there is a clear gap in financial planning for women and are actively seeking advice to close that gap. Product providers are also highlighting this to attract more female clients. 

“A 20-year-old women is on course to have £100,000 less in her pension than a man the same age," reveals Scottish Widows' Women & Retirement Report 2020.

The financial industry is still stuck in the dark ages when it comes to effecting change and meeting the demands of our ever-changing social outlook.

Clients need to be able to build relationships with advisers that they can work with for the long term. Being able to relate to your adviser will allow you to build trust and open up a two-way approach to financial planning.

I recently had a call from a man looking for a female IFA for his aunt and he had not been able to find one within a 60-mile radius. Her husband had passed away a few months ago and she lived alone. She felt safer having a female adviser, but felt that she may not have a choice. Without the availability of female advisers this causes an unintentional barrier to that client being able to access the advice that she needs. 

Female financial advisers and wealth planners only account for 14 per cent of the UK’s entire IFA and wealth planner population. "It would seem that almost 20 years on, we’ve made no progress at all," notes Anna Sofat, associate director – wealth at Progeny, in one of her blog pieces.

I have also recognised that the only way our industry can move forward is for each of us to contribute to change.

Clients should have access to a range of advisers of all ages, ethnic groups and genders. I understand the fear of stepping out of your comfort zone and the challenges that women face when putting themselves forward into these roles. I have been mistaken for the admin assistant or 'girl in the office' more times than I can count. That’s what puts me in a position to help new advisers to overcome these barriers.