One man: 30 women – the day the tables were turned
By Ben Peele - June 14, 2021
At our inaugural Women in Advice event, I was the only man in a (virtual) room with 30 women who are enjoying successful careers in financial advice. “Now you know how we feel walking into a conference!” was a comment from one attendee that really hit home.
The event is covered in a feature I wrote that was recently published by Professional Adviser. In the feature, I ask “Why aren’t there more female financial advisers?” I think it’s a fair question, bearing in mind the FCA register indicates that only 14% of CF30s are female.
In the feature, I outline some of the reasons given by the women at the seminar. Here’s a summary of three of the main ones:
(Unjustified) confidence issues
A recurring theme was confidence, or rather lack of it when starting out. Early in their careers some of these incredibly successful women had questioned whether they were cut out to be an adviser.
However, despite these early confidence issues, I picked up a distinct thread of steely determination portrayed by all – a desire to push themselves past any self-doubt to achieve a fulfilling career. Certainly, any crises of confidence had disappeared as careers had flourished.
Many had no idea about financial advice as a career when they left school/university. Thankfully this is changing: the PFS is running a raft of schemes to get the message out to younger people and the good people at the Verve Group are also doing a lot to attract more younger people into this great profession.
While the number of female advisers/planners is low, paraplanners are far more likely to be female. Perhaps the way the different roles are remunerated could be a reason for this. Paraplanners are salaried whereas financial advisers typically have a much greater variable element to their compensation. It takes courage and a great deal of self-belief to walk away from a salary to start a career that rewards results alone.
Paraplanning is a career in its own right
As Sarah Giles wrote in another recent Professional Adviser feature, paraplanning is a career in its own right and shouldn’t be regarded as lesser to being a financial adviser.
Many of the delegates at our seminar were equally passionate about this message. They said that paraplanners are often more qualified than the advisers they work alongside and that “Every member of the team is needed to deliver the full client experience.”
Demand is there for female advisers
But, as great a career as paraplanning is, we do need more female advisers. Research from Fidelity has highlighted that one in five clients select an adviser on the basis of gender, so it’s important the profession has a better balance of men and women to meet demand.
There are green shoots of hope. In recent research, NextWealth found that while only 1 in 10 financial advisers/planners over the age of 55 is female, this rises to 3 in 10 under age 45.
It’s a start…but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.