In celebration of today being International Women’s Day (#IWD2022), we talk to Sally Plant (CISI) and Sarah Lord (PFS) about the role of women in the UK financial planning profession today and whether they believe things have changed in recent years.
Sally Plant (pictured) is Head of Financial Planning at the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI). Reflecting on her own career as well as on how the profession has developed, Plant offers sound practical advice to anyone looking to develop their career in financial planning – to get a good mentor.
Plant comments: “My first job in financial services was at Sukura Global Investors on Broad Street, when I was 18 years old. I used to socialise with my brother who was a successful trader at that time. The City of London was fun, corporate entertainment was in abundance but it was a heavily male dominated environment. The girls I knew at that time were predominantly Team/Desk assistants or in the back office functions.
“Undoubtedly there has been a huge shift. Women are seen now across business in all roles and at all levels. For example, at Paradigm Norton Financial Planning, 55% of the roles across the breadth of their financial planning team are filled by women.
“Financial Planning lends itself not just to millennials’ life balance but also to women returning to work, irrespective of the reason for their career break. At that point, they come with the personal life lessons that often financial planners will lean on to relate to their own clients and their life situations. I know a number of financial planning firms that now directly target this population and without the aim of keeping them in an administration role but supporting them through to becoming financial planners or paraplanners.
“When it comes to the broader issues of diversity and inclusion, I don’t know of any profession which doesn’t need diversity for innovation and to create different solutions to the same problem to keep their profession moving forwards. Financial Planning is no different. So, of course, gender diversity plays an important role. My advice would be similar to anyone – regardless of gender – and that is to find yourself a good mentor. That person should be someone who inspires you, is knowledgeable and can help you to challenge and explore your own ideas and initiatives.”
Sarah Lord, President of the Personal Finance Society (PFS) , said: “When an impactful approach to diversity and inclusion is at the heart of a financial planning firm, the regulator has been clear that they usually also find positive outcomes in risk management, good conduct, healthy working cultures and innovation too.
“The financial planning profession has made strides forward in recent years, but we are still on a journey. I firmly believe further progress can be best achieved by sharing the challenges we face as well as how we are going above and beyond legal requirements to boost employee and client wellbeing with our work.”