The financial advice industry is gripped in a vicious cycle, which despite positive steps forward in recent years, continues to lock women out of the profession.
Financial adviser schools like ours are doing their bit to help improve the gender balance within the profession. At present there is a gender split on our courses of around 70% men: 30% women (higher than the wider industry average, some put as low as 84% : 16%) but this is still a far cry from legitimately tackling the gender imbalance in our profession.
A male-dominated industry
Recent research from The WealthiHer Network shone a light on why the industry continues to be male dominated. It showed that 75% of women fundamentally believe there is a difference in the way men and women invest and their attitudes to risk.
However, for many years the investment industry and financial advice as a whole has marketed itself predominantly to men. This is illustrated by a YouGov survey which found 52% of women have never held an investment product compared to just 32% of men. If someone has never even dealt with the industry, the prospect of them joining it is remote.
So we have a situation here where the industry fails to market itself to female consumers, they therefore feel disengaged from it and it naturally follows that they do not rush to join the financial advice profession. The ultimate result is a dearth of female advisers.
The rising appeal of female advisers
“Some of my female clients say that they feel more comfortable with a female adviser. This is particularly true for clients seeking financial advice after life events such as divorce or the death of a partner,” Gabriela Strug, a financial planner at Quilter Private Client Advisers recently explained to me.
This should give the industry pause for thought. The Office for National Statistics claims that by 2025 65% of the UK’s wealth will be controlled by women. It’s likely that similar to Gabriela’s clients, the majority will also want a female financial adviser but will struggle to find them if we don’t boost the numbers flowing into the industry.
Increasing female engagement with the industry
It’s more important than ever that we break this cycle. First, we need market financial services better to female consumers by recognising that they have different investment needs, financial goals and relate to finance differently. This in turn should mean that more women engage with financial services and only then can we truly expect to coherently illustrate how attractive it is to work within it. Therefore it rests with everyone in the financial advice sector to go out and reveal to family, friends or whoever will listen, how fantastic this profession can be.
This article first appeared in FT Adviser on 20 February 2020.