Sarah Johnson does not listen to those who tell her she is not cut out for financial advice, and recently enrolled on Quilter's virtual work experience program, where she was one of 210 aspiring financial advisers.
The 21-year-old Cheshire native (pictured) grew up seeing the profession dominated by middle-aged men, but is set on changing that.
"My aspiration is for it not to be such an old men's club - for women not to be facing so many challenges. It is definitely getting better, but there is still that stigma around women and young women and I want to help change that by going into the industry and hopefully helping others do the same," she said.
Johnson took part in Quilter Financial Planning's recent virtual work experience program, which involved 210 people aged 17 to 22, almost two-thirds of which were male. The programme's gender gap is significantly lower than that in the advice sector, with three-quarters (76%) of the Personal Finance Society's 39,725 members being men.
Johnson only recently decided she wanted to become an adviser after completing a sociology degree, and has ignored people who tell her she would have a better chance at succeeding if she were a man.
"I have had someone who's not even in finance say ‘it's so male dominated, why are you bothering?' But if you don't bother it will always be male dominated, so you have to try and embrace the challenges and learn to do things in your own way," she said.
"I don't think there's any point in trying to fit in the men's club - you should show them you're clever enough to be there and you can work just as hard as them."
Johnson was inspired to enter the field after spending time at her step-father's advice firm growing up, where she also realised just how male-dominated the field was.
She said being a young woman made it more difficult to get ahead in the profession, but opportunities were improving.
"For young people it can be quite difficult to get into [the sector] because you're seen as this young immature person, but there are opportunities. Boys have that relationship… they get in through boyish, laddish banter, which is something people don't see in girls. People think ‘what is she going to know about money?' You've got to do it in your own way."
Johnson has applied for Quilter's financial advice school and wants to eventually become an IFA.
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