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Are firms addressing the lack of women in financial advice?

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Are firms addressing the lack of women in financial advice?

Like many industries, financial advice has often been perceived as male-dominated but there are signs the industry is changing.

There are many reasons a larger number of financial advisers have historically been men. For instance, it may hark back to a time when a household’s financial affairs was a male domain, so the man of the house would probably seek advice from a male financial adviser.

The financial services industry more generally has traditionally struggled to appeal to women who believe it is better known for its ‘old boys’ network than for being the type of environment which encourages men and women to work alongside one another.

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Of course, companies have begun making improvements to ensure there is no longer a dearth of women in financial services, with more pressure to recruit women at boardroom level and an emphasis on providing childcare to help women get back into work after, or while, they are raising a family.

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Fiona Treadwell, talent and development business partner at Mattioli Woods, says: “For us there has never been any polarisation but we acknowledge that traditionally financial advice has been seen as a male-dominated environment.

“We regularly run careers open events. At some the populous is predominantly male, other events female, so I believe the interest in financial services as an early career choice is there for both sexes.

"I think the practicalities around the need to be out on the road seeing clients and the potential to generate income this way doesn’t always fit well with those juggling family commitments.”

Darren Smith, head of Old Mutual Wealth’s Financial Adviser School (FAS), told FTAdviser at its graduation ceremony in April how attracting more women and introducing financial services to them as a career option was a key focus for him.

He adds: “FAS is committed to encouraging more women into the advice field. At the moment 29 per cent of our students are women and we are looking to raise that percentage.”

Eleanor Armson was among the eight who graduated from FAS on 3 April and one of two female graduates.

“I think it’s a great industry for women and it’s a great opportunity to get into finance as well,” she explains. “It’s one of those industries really suited to women, because it plays to their strengths.”

Marie Calvin, at Standard Life’s advice arm 1825, suggests people are attracted to their traineeship programme regardless of gender.

“Currently I have 15 people on the traineeship program, six of them are women. One of the things just to point out is we never set about creating specific rules for women, these were the top 15 candidates out of 330 applicants,” she says.