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#IWD2022: Intertrust Group Managing Director and We Are Guernsey Board Member, Marie McNeela, analyses the current state of women’s representation in wealth

In celebration of this week’s International Women’s Day, Marie McNeela, Intertrust Group Managing Director and We Are Guernsey Board Member, discusses female representation in the wealth management industry.

Women are increasingly significant generators, owners and investors of substantial wealth. A secular trend that is predicted to gather momentum. According to Forbes, 11% of their list of 2020 Billionaires are women, and The Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates that by 2025, 60% of the UK’s wealth will belong to women.

Is this increasing feminisation of the ownership and management of capital translating to greater gender diversity and inclusivity in the private wealth management industry and family offices? And if so, what is the impact across the industry?

In 2021, We Are Guernsey commissioned Family Capital to undertake research to help better understand the trends and impact of the growing influence of women on governance of family offices.

Four percent of single-family office principles are women, compared with 11% of the world’s billionaires. Meanwhile, 3.5% of single-family office CEOs are women compared with 7.5% of Fortune 500 companies. Finally, only 14% of finance roles are held by women.

Whilst many women may read this with frustration, there is promise for our industry. The level of representation is increasing at senior levels and a trajectory toward greater female representation generally at all other levels. Whilst there isn’t an overnight fix, it’s promising to see the trend will continue growing.

Given the importance of the Middle East to the private wealth industry, we were also keen that the work looked specifically at the region and the results were surprising. Due to the cultural and societal norms of much of the Middle East, men hold much of the family wealth, but this can be misleading at a first glance.

Women hold a much larger role than many outsiders would suspect. Often, women influence wealth decisions of their male relatives and hold de facto roles. However, statistics do show that the jurisdiction is showing a similar trend to the global perspective on female representation in family offices and senior positions.

Many believe the global position is down to the current impact of governance structures. On average, 80% of global family offices have no gender diversity governance structures. Jurisdictions and family offices around the world have the opportunity to put their foot down and take a step in the right direction.

As a global finance centre with a strong tradition of providing specialist private wealth services, Guernsey has a proven track record in promoting good governance in corporate structures and family offices. I am also pleased to say that women are strongly represented at senior levels within our private wealth sector.

Guernsey professionals and firms are well placed to have meaningful conversations on the issues raised by this research, provide expert advice and support to establish family office services with good governance at their heart.

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