The profession needs to be a lot more flexible, accommodating and understanding of true work-life balance. 

    Recent figures suggest 15% of people in the financial industry have Chartered status, but as it remains a predominantly male industry, only a small percentage of the 15% are female.  

    The landscape is changing however, and it’s fantastic to see more women choosing a career in personal finance. But while I feel as though it is becoming more of a popular career path for women, it certainly isn’t common, not yet anyway. 

    There could be many reasons for this. I can only share my personal experiences. 

    Barriers along the way 

    I’d be lying if I said I haven’t encountered any obstacles just because I am a woman. I will say I don’t think I was ever made to feel inferior because of my gender, but because of my desire to have a family – which would mean me looking to work part time – I certainly feel I’ve encountered barriers along the way. 

    Whether it was because I am a woman or more to the point, a mother - I’ll leave that for debate – for a long time, I wasn’t able to progress because I was not able to work full-time hours (unlike my male colleagues), which was of course hugely frustrating for me. While having a family was a choice my husband and I made, I never felt that it meant that I couldn’t do the job of a financial adviser. 

    My full-time male colleagues, despite having their own families, were given opportunities that I was not considered for, like the progression from paraplanner to becoming a financial adviser. On one occasion I was given the reason - my ‘working hours were not sufficient’ for me to do the role of a financial adviser effectively. On a lighter note, I was told that the door was always open to that career path as and when I was willing to increase my hours and go back to ‘full time’! 

    I’m sure many women will say they have encountered the same, and although I like to think any dad who chose to work part time would have also faced the same difficulties in their career progression, the reality is that few dads do. ‘Flexism’ (employees who are sidelined for a promotion because they work flexibly) is therefore not something that is commonly experienced by men. 

    Flexism is very much alive 

    In my experience, flexism is an issue that is very much alive, despite the progress we’ve made towards gender equality. I believe that the profession still needs to be a lot more flexible, accommodating and understanding of a true work-life balance, for both women and men in equal measures, to really claim equal opportunities for both genders. 

    It’s one of the many reasons why I knew Fiducia was the right place for me when I joined the company in 2017 – work-life balance is genuinely at the core of how we operate. I went about my work as a financial adviser, showed my value to the company, and after a year I was offered a director’s position and then the opportunity to take part in a management buy-out two years later. 

    In March 2021 (at the start of the Covid-19 crisis), myself and my managing director acquired a majority shareholding in the company (while I was still working part time!). I can proudly say today that I am a co-owner of Fiducia, a director, a chartered financial planner and a mother.  

    I recently won an award for Financial Adviser of the Year – Midlands & East Anglia - in the Women in Finance awards, in fact, I’ve actually won the award two years in a row, and despite the many challenges women face in the business world, it’s winning awards like this and potentially inspiring other women to choose a path in finance that keeps me forging ahead with my career. 

    While it was frustrating that I couldn’t always progress as I hoped, I was still quite young at the time. 
    Looking back, I like to think the enforced delay has allowed me to gain valuable life experience.  

    I also believe this has all helped me to provide financial advice to my clients, because I truly do understand the importance of wealth protection and preservation for something greater than yourself – family is everything. 

    My advice to anyone reading this is believe in yourself – sometimes the people you’re working with or for, just aren’t the right fit. The good news is, the right fit is out there for you, keep believing.

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