Firing Line: Rebecca Robertson

Firing Line: Rebecca Robertson

Evolution for Women, the business brand, leaves little doubt about the company’s target audience, although male clients are welcome, Ms Robertson said: “I think a lot of women working in finance have become institutionalised and feel they have to adopt ‘bullish’ traits usually associated with males in order to succeed in the industry,” Ms Robertson said. “Some women want to be considered an ‘alpha female’ and I have no issues with that – it’s their choice. I used to be one of them but then I became a mother.”

It is no secret that men far outnumber women in financial advice services. Last year, HM Treasury unveiled its Women in Finance charter to reflect the government’s aspiration to see gender balance at all levels across financial services firms. The public body explained a balanced workforce would not only be good for business, but also for customers, profitability and workplace culture.

Ms Robertson agrees, adding: “Men and women are equal but different. Generally speaking, clients who specifically seek a female financial adviser do so because women can connect with people in a unique way.

“I think women find it easier to listen and empathise with people than men. These skills are ‘soft’ but they are nonetheless crucial to the advice process.”

Toxic culture

Ms Robertson’s tenure in financial services is a tale of disillusionment due to male-dominated workplaces polluted by bravado and an emphasis on sales for lucrative commission cheques, usually at the expense of the client.

She involuntarily took a step back from the industry after being made redundant from her role as regional sales manager at the now-defunct Mortgage Savings Centre during the financial crash – while pregnant.

After a taxing period, which saw Ms Roberson briefly sign on for Jobseekers’ Allowance, she landed a role in a mortgage brokerage through an old industry contact.

She quit a year into the position after becoming disenfranchised by what she claimed to be the sales-driven culture of the brokerage, later creating Evolution for Women in 2011.

“The advisory sector pre-Retail Distribution Review (RDR) was very much sales-driven, which appeals to men more than women. I could not find a home for myself. 

“I wanted to be looked after and nurtured and the company was not conducive to this so I decided to go it alone.”

Doin’ it for themselves

From humble beginnings as a sole trader, Ms Robertson scaled Evolution for Women. The practice now boasts 180 ‘transacted’ clients and six advisers – two of whom are level-four qualified, while the rest are qualified to advise on mortgages and protection. 

Turnover also increased by an average of 20 per cent each year, she said. The business has a sister organisation, Evolution Forces Families, who are all spouses of either current or ex-serving military personnel.

Ms Robertson’s other brainchild, Evo Girls, offers social networking opportunities for women in business. It targets the dissemination of best business practice to help members grow their respective enterprises. The business also offers a ‘franchise’ opportunity exclusive to female financial advisers with or without prior industry experience.

The team sheet currently consists of a former executive personal assistant, a mother with experience in business banking.

Feminine touch to finance

She said: “There are a lot more women in managerial roles in big finance companies, which is great.