The Personal Finance Society has defended the advice sector in the aftermath of a damning report which found little progress had been made towards gender diversity in the financial services industry in the past 14 years.
Last month a research note carried out for the Financial Conduct Authority warned diversity had remained "consistently low" in the financial services industry at a female quota of approximately 17 per cent of FCA approved individuals.
The report, which analysed 94 financial institutions focusing on senior managers, found the industry average had remained "remarkably unchanged" since 2005 despite several regime shifts and increased public scrutiny.
But Keith Richards, chief executive of the PFS, has stepped in to defend the financial advice sector, insisting its make-up is changing.
Mr Richards said: "Gender should not be a barrier to success in the personal finance profession, and the PFS is committed to leading by example with representation and acknowledgment for our female role models but it will take some time for some parts of the market to fully evolve.
"It is vital that our profession reflects the diversity of the clients who benefit from receiving financial advice, which of course extends beyond gender."
The professional body said it had witnessed a "marked and steady improvement" in the gender diversity of its graduating classes, with women making up 30 per cent of the 483 students who graduated in October this year.
Mr Richards added: "The make-up of our graduates and the growing number of female speakers at our events is a pleasing sign that financial advice is a career where female voices and experiences are championed and we will continue to work hard in evolving the journey."
At the recent PFS annual conference 31 per cent of speakers were female, including Julie Lord, chief executive and founder of Bridgend-based Magenta Financial Planning and Ruth Sturkey, client director at Paradigm Norton.
In 2016 the HM Treasury launched the Women in Finance Charter in a bid to address the underrepresentation of women in finance, with more than 330 firms pledging to it implement its recommendations.
But the report published by the FCA last month found whilst there had been gains in gender diversity in some areas, improvement had often "come from a very low base and many firms and sub-sectors continue to lag on representation of senior women".
The report found large investment managers had a more gender diverse senior management, in comparison with institutional brokerage firms, which made up the least gender diverse sector in the sample.
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