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#IWD2022: Quilter says financial services needs to do more to break ‘boys club’ misperception

In celebration of this week’s International Women’s Day and National Careers Week, six women from Quilter share stories about their varied careers within financial services and why we need to boost the female talent in the sector.

Tosin James-Odukoya, head of inclusion, diversity and talent acquisition at Quilter:

This year’s International Women’s Day coincides with National Careers Week, which aims to help provide support for young people as they leave school and look to start work. It’s our hope that young women across the country view the plethora of roles within financial services as a potential option as not only does it represent a rewarding career but boosting the gender diversity of the sector will also help it thrive.

It’s no secret that the financial services industry needs to recruit more women and from more diverse backgrounds. There are so many interesting roles within the sector but many of them are still dominated by men and this needs to change. Companies across the industry must encourage more women into leadership roles as this is critical to addressing the gender pay gap and helping to produce female role models, which are crucial to attracting more female talent.

The sector has changed a lot in recent years, helping to break down misperceptions that it’s a ‘boys’ club’ or one where women need to work much harder to succeed. In fact, our research, for example, found that the more empathetic approach a female financial adviser might take during client meetings is very effective in building trust and people with this ability generally earnt more, proving strengths in so-called ‘soft skills’ are a win-win for both clients and advisers.

It’s up to us as an industry to illustrate the interesting and varied roles available to all within financial services.

Helen Bradshaw, portfolio manager at Quilter Investors:

When I joined the portfolio management industry I had very few female role models to look up to, but this is changing. Over the past decade, a number of female portfolio managers have taken on senior roles and this improved visibility will helps boost the confidence of women who want to do the same. This in turn creates a virtuous circle which has been missing from the industry.

More also needs to be done to reveal some of the benefits of a career in portfolio management, as well as address some of the misconceptions. Women are equally as capable of generating investment ideas, developing and implementing investment strategies and managing risk as men, yet unfortunately many may still lack the confidence to join the industry or perceive there to be insurmountable barriers.

Many women still think that this kind of career is not compatible with having a family, but this is simply not the case. Particularly as we exit the pandemic and hybrid working becomes the norm, juggling home and work life becomes increasingly easier to handle. These types of misunderstandings of the industry create barriers, which in turn put women off joining the industry but hopefully the tide is starting to turn.

Financial services is a vast and fascinating industry with many different roles to consider, and a very successful and rewarding career can be found within portfolio management.

Karin Cook, chief operating officer at Quilter:

There is no sugar coating the fact that if you choose or aspire to a very demanding role it’s important to recognise you have to compromise. As women we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and there are a lot of expectations placed on us – but most importantly you need to be comfortable with the choices you have made and be true to yourself.  However, I don’t subscribe to the idea that it’s impossible to still have a good balance and women should not be put off from aspiring to great things in this sector if they also want to have a family.

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