Khalil began her financial services career 16 years ago, in 2007. She used to sit on the adviser side of the fence, before joining the provider industry in 2011. Before Seccl, she worked for Multrees - initially on a consultancy basis before becoming a full-time employee.
When Khalil started out in the industry, she said she stood out.
“I was not only female, but I used to be a female that wore a headscarf within the sector. So I was ticking the gender diversity box, but also the religious diversity box. Hence why I stood out a bit like a sore thumb,” Khalil recalled.
I made sure I was engaging. My name isn’t common or easy to pronounce. They remembered me as an individual.Farzana Khalil, Seccl
“It’s fair to say I didn’t feel like I fit in when I first started in the space. But I think a lot of that spoke to my background, being muslim-Pakistani.
“I couldn’t see myself represented within the industry. There were definitely moments where I felt like I was intruding on a big boys club.”
As time went on, Khalil found she was treated with more softness.
“I made sure I was engaging. My name isn’t common or easy to pronounce. They remembered me as an individual,” she said.
Khalil recalled a board meeting she sat in where the chair asked the question ‘should we be doing more around diversity at a board level?’, to which someone responded ‘well we mirror our clients, so we’re ok’.
“As a woman in the room, that was disheartening to hear,” said the Seccl head.
But Khalil feels the industry has evolved, with events seeming a lot more diverse than they once were.
At Seccl, the chief executive level is 50/50 male and female split.
Over time, Khalil wants to see more than just gender diversity represented at the top of companies, willing for more diversity in sexuality, religion, and race to also appear at the top level.
Robertson joined Multrees six and a half years ago, in 2012. Having started out as an auditor, she moved to the platform side of the industry while working at Multrees.
Multrees has only existed as long as Robertson has been in the industry. Founded in 2011, the platform provider took its first assets in 2012.