Female advisers continue to be outnumbered by men, but the RDR and, more surprisingly, the economic downturn, may present new opportunities for women.
If you take 100 advisers today, at random, just 17 of them are likely to be women, research suggests. Additionally, the study by Touchstone Analytics concludes female advisers will not make up half of the workforce until 2078.
Yet these figures, according to some women advisers, may need revising sooner than anticipated.
Four ladies – two UK-based and two from the US – took part in an online debate last week to discuss the challenges women advisers face, their strengths and the benefits of consulting with female clients.
Female IFAs discuss life in the industry
One issue concerned the difficulties women can face as a minority in the industry.
As Gillian Cardy, the managing director at advisory trade body IFA Centre, explained, she has often walked into a room and been the only female in attendance.
Similarly, Cardy argued that the relationships advisers build with solicitors and accountants can be “established on the golf course, creating an old boys’ network”.
“I felt I had to be better than a male counterpart to be successful,” she said.
Lacking the confidence to ask for parity of wages with men can also be a problem for women, according to Cathy Curtis, a financial adviser at US-based Curtis Financial Planning.
“Women often accept a lower salary for the privilege of getting in through the door,” she said. “One thing I’ve learnt though, is that women should be sure to ask for what they’re worth.”
Despite the difficulties women advisers face, many argue that, if they approach their career in the right way, they can benefit from a competitive advantage.
Eleanor Blayney, president of US-based advisory trade body Directions for Women, explained that ‘financial planning’, which requires a more holistic analysis of clients’ finances and deals with customers’ emotional attitudes to money, can be something that is more appealing to female advisers than male.
However, she said that, though there was anecdotal evidence that this may be the case, research was divided.
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