The only woman in the room!!!

For the past thirty years I have been frustrated at the lack of progress of women in Financial Services. I endlessly complain to anyone who cares to or is polite enough to listen. When I first started in financial planning back in 1988, I think I might have been one of the first women to apply for a financial planning position with a relevant degree – in my case Economics. Although women’s lives have radically changed over this time, it doesn’t seem that things have changed all that much in financial services. The percentage of female advisers remains small and the number of female senior portfolio managers miniscule.

It’s not for lack of talent. Women tend to have great listening skills which goes a long way to making a great adviser. I have either mentored or supported a number of young females and in all cases the outcomes have exceeded my expectations. To be a great adviser, a person needs both soft skills and hard skills. They need to be able to build strong relationships with their clients as well as being able to communicate often complex financial strategies in a way that is easy to understand. Women can do this.
In my experience, this lack of female representation is not the case outside Australia. A few years ago, I attended my first Global Research Summit in Hong Kong hosted by J P Morgan. I was astonished, coming fresh from my experience in Australia, at how many women were represented at all levels of the JP Morgan business across Asia, as advisers, as researchers and as senior executives.

By way of contrast, last week during International Women’s week, I attended a small dinner where I was able to listen and question a highly respected portfolio manager specialising in Global shares. I have attended a number of these functions and appreciate the fantastic opportunity it provides. Regrettably, I was the only female there amongst the twenty sitting around the table. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon experience for me.

Financial Services is going to be a wonderful job opportunity in the next few years. It is anticipated that many older advisers will be retiring in the next five years as a result of higher education standards coming into force. This will further improve the professional standards in the financial advice profession. There is already a short supply of good, well-trained advisers and there are not enough young advisers, male or female, coming up through the ranks to replace those who are retiring.

My call to young women. If you want to make a difference in this world, there is nothing better than guiding people responsibly to achieve financial security. Become a great, professional financial planner.

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