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Editor's Pick: Barriers for women in financial services

by Ali Cain | 05 Oct 2017
BT Financial Group’s Stella network is poised to release research done in conjunction with the Financial Services Council (FSC) that looks into what’s stopping women from becoming financial advisers.

Early findings indicate one reason why women don’t progress through the industry is because they tend to stay in support roles too long. The study also suggests women who have been successful in financial advice have usually been mentored.

The 2500-strong Stella network was created in 2013 to support female financial planners.

“The two are interrelated; women are unlikely to step up unless there’s someone telling them they are ready,” says Stella leader Julia Newbould. 

Women also want to see other women in roles to which they aspire. Otherwise, it’s difficult for them to imagine how they would perform the job. 

The research also looks into issues such as maternity leave and flexible working, as well as succession planning.

“It’s important in this area for businesses to be exploring different options to support females,” Newbould says.

For instance, one case study highlighted by the Stella network shows how one practice with principals looking to retire was able to combine with a practice whose principals were women in the 30s with family responsibilities looking for support in their work.

Nevertheless, Newbould says it’s still difficult for women in financial advice and change has been a slow process.

But the recent focus on this issue gives it a better chance of being addressed and Stella is looking at developing mentoring programs to help women advance through the industry. 

Partnerships with industry bodies and others and providing support for awards programs for women are also on the cards. 

Stella is aiming to equalise the number of women and men in financial advice. Right now the split is 20 per cent women 80 per cent men across the industry and the plan is to increase the number of planners overall.

“Financial advice and funds management are still not well known as career choices and our work aims to change that over time,” Newbould says.

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