In Focus: Modern financial planner  

‘A lot more’ for industry to do to attract diverse talent

‘A lot more’ for industry to do to attract diverse talent

Progress is needed on social mobility at all levels in financial and professional services, according to a report.

The City of London socio-economic diversity taskforce, which the Law Society of England and Wales sits on, published a report into progression to senior levels in the financial and professional services.

It found these sectors still have work to do to ensure equity of progression for people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. 

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The report found that 64 per cent of senior leaders surveyed were from a family with a professional background which is almost double the proportion (37 per cent) of the UK population.

Employees from a family with a professional background are 43 per cent more likely to be at senior level than their working-class colleagues.

Law Society president Stephanie Boyce said: “The report draws urgent attention to the need for professional services – including the legal sector – to improve their socio-economic diversity to ensure we reflect the society we serve.”

It revealed that 26 per cent of senior employees attended fee-paying schools, which is three times the national average of 7.5 per cent, while 20 per cent of junior-level and 16 per cent of mid-level respondents attended fee-paying schools.

Speaking to FTAdviser, policy and public affairs director at the Chartered Insurance Institute, Matthew Connell, agreed that social mobility is a key issue for financial services.

The CII took part in the City of London socio-economic diversity taskforce that has produced definitions around social background connected to parental background.

“We believe that the financial advice profession is an important source of diversity within financial services, because it is made up of smaller firms and this allows people from different socio-economic backgrounds to set up their own businesses to cater for people from similar backgrounds.

"For example, it gives people from immigrant communities the freedom to specialise in services for members of that immigrant community in the UK in a way that they may not be able to do if they were employees of a larger corporation,” he said.

“It is important that regulation continues to allow this route to professionalism by making it possible to operate smaller firms, and not creating systems and governance requirements that make it impossible for small firms to function through compliance hurdles.”

Some 37 per cent of working-class respondents felt their background had held them back at work, compared to 18 per cent from a professional background.

Employees from working class backgrounds felt less able to be themselves at work, with respondents more likely to feel like an outsider, that their background negatively impacted their career and that they did not have the same chances of success in the workplace.

Just 1 per cent of respondents in senior positions were ethnic minority women from working-class backgrounds.