Why are there so few female Financial Advisors?
With the pandemic pushing financial issues into the media spotlight, the demand for financial advisors is higher than ever before. However, there is still a massive gap between male and female advisors. In fact, according to the FCA, only 16% of advisors in the UK are women.
I have worked with some incredible candidates over the years, although I can honestly say only a very small amount of them have been women. I have had many discussions with clients, candidates, and colleagues as to why there are not more women in advice as it has plenty to offer as a career. So, I thought I would ask some of the female advisors I have been lucky enough to work with for their opinion of being a woman in the financial advice world.
Deborah White – Chartered Financial Planner
Over 41 years ago I entered the then, murky world of Financial Services. Who would have thought all that time ago I would still be involved and still enjoying helping, guiding and advising clients! I started my life in Financial Services as a PA to one of the Directors of a small new IFA practice and within a short time was Manager of one of the offices and finally an equity owning Director. In that time regulation has become far more stringent (a good thing) and hopefully the outside world views us as far more professional.
For me, being a IFA, has always been an ideal profession. I like problem solving and helping people, and as an advisor that’s what you do. When I first got involved in the business in 1981 I was literally the only female at any industry meetings and I loved it - I can honestly say that that I have received huge amounts of support and encouragement from male advisors locally - but I never made out that I was different from them - we were all doing the same job and I think I became "one of the boys" which worked well for everyone. In 41 years there have only been two "prospects" that didn't want to work with me because I was female - their loss not mine.
I felt 41 years ago, and still believe today, that any female advisor has a huge advantage over her male equivalent - in a meeting with husband and wife - the wife will potentially feel far more comfortable with a female advisor (us ladies do work on the principle of a problem shared is a problem halved) and the husband will see us as non-threatening - so both feel relaxed and will have no issues being open about their financial position, future plans and objectives - just what is needed for anyone to be able to help their clients - openness and honesty.
Sue Zanzarella – IFA
I'm not sure how well being a financial adviser is promoted as a career path, perhaps some research in schools/colleges would be helpful? A perception that advising is a male dominated career could possibly be changed by almost marketing the role differently.
I've worked for my current firm for over 11 years and started as office administrator. Over time, I became more involved with the admin support for the advisers and was given the opportunity to qualify as part of succession planning. Having been to many CPD events (mainly pre-Covid), female advisers represent a low proportion of attendees. I haven't personally experienced any barriers or discrimination as a female adviser, and it has been commented on that females may pick up on 'soft facts' or nuances about client personal circumstances somewhat more than their male colleagues.
There could be a perception that advising is a sales role, but in my experience, knowing your client and building a strong relationship is key. If I hadn't worked where I do work, I would have assumed that advising is like working for a bank where staff seem to be under pressure to ask about mortgages etc at every opportunity.
In respect of juggling a career and family commitments, that would depend on the employer as it would in many industries. I have been fortunate in that respect and have worked somewhat flexible hours to manage home commitments (taxiing teenagers!) and working later, when possible, to fit around clients who want later appointments outside standard office hours. Personally, I feel the flexibility I've been given has made me inclined to work harder in appreciation of this.
Kelly Biggar, Fram Search
Both these women, and others I have spoken with, have had a positive experience within the industry, so why are more women not drawn to careers in financial advice? What are the barriers stopping them considering this as a career path? What will it take to get women to see the opportunities and advantages the role of financial advisors offers them? I know there are stats showing that college-age women tend to go on to university and pick a Non-STEM subject, but you do not have to have a maths-based degree to be a financial advisor. This role requires some much more then a head for numbers. It requires soft skills like teamwork, time management, organisation, empathy, communication, and the ability to problem solve; all skills women excel at. So, what do you think it will take to get women engaged? More encouragement in middle school learning, more exposure to financial education?
Whatever it maybe, the financial services industry, education section and current female FS workforce need to highlight this excellent career option for women. The more diverse our FS industry can become, the better it will be in the future.
About Fram Search
Established in 2010, Fram Search is a privately owned specialist financial services recruitment consultancy. We work with global leaders and boutiques in the UK and overseas, providing permanent recruitment solutions. Our core focus is the mid-to- senior market and our aim is to build close and lasting relationships with firms who become repeat customers, and with candidates who we help throughout their career. We offer both contingent recruitment and retained search solutions.
Having rapidly built a leading Wealth & Asset Management practice, today we also work with investment banks, private equity & VC, family offices and fintechs. Functionally, our team works with clients across front office (IM's, IB, and VC/PE Investment Professionals), finance, operations, compliance, and sales & marketing.
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