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04 December, 2017   |   By Fiona Tait, Technical Director   |   Blog

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Sisiters are (not) doing it for themselves @Pensionsgirlieblog 04 December

There’s been a lot of chat in the twittersphere this week about the lack of female advisers or ladies in senior positions within financial services. I retweeted @rayvay’s excellent blog last week but felt inspired also to twirl my own spoon in the mix.

I have pretty much spent my professional career as the only female in a team of men. I keep thinking it will change but here I am nearly 30 years later and, guess what, I’m still the only woman on the Board of Directors in an office where all the “field staff” are male and the majority of the “inside staff” are female. Now this has advantages for me (twice the nights out) but it is more than time that things changed.

It’s not for want of trying. I know my fellow directors have always looked for the best person without giving any thought to their sex, however of the 50-odd CVs we have received for analyst positions over the past 3 years or so only 1 was from a woman. Why is this??

There’s a loPicture2.pngvely cartoon in EBaum’s World that sums it up – a man looks in the mirror and sees an Adonis, the woman sees a fat girl (unfortunately I can’t show it to due to copyright so here’s one I made earlier).

Traditionally advisers have been in the self-confident “I know best” mode and this tends to attract men. What I believe we should do is provide women with more role models who demonstrate that there are lots of different ways to being a successful adviser and there is a lot they can bring to the table that the male advisers might not – not necessarily better but different and equally effective.Blog.png

Back in the day I was not just the only woman in the sales team, I was the only consultant on target and was often forced to do the monthly “how I won the war” speech. One of the guys, understandably fed up of this, eventually cracked and said “it’s easy for you, you’re a girl and IFAs want to see you”. Wow!

I was just drawing breath to blast him with the full on Jo Brand treatment when I suddenly realised he had a point. It was easier for a twenty-something lass who looks half decent in a dress to get appointments with predominantly middle-aged male advisers. What wasn’t easier was to be taken seriously.

Swings and roundabouts. I could get mad or I could use it.

I encBlog 3a.pngourage everyone to make the most of their strengths including, where applicable, using the wiles that apparently come with having two x chromosomes. Not by pandering to the old stereotypes but by recognising that a different approach can also bring results. In my case years of having to cut through testosterone-based or Sir Humphrey style, manure translated into the @pensiongirlie persona. If I was a man it would be called playing the “daft laddie”; if I was younger it would be a “child’s eye view”. 

So I’m not arguing that we need more women in financial services purely on the grounds of equality. More female advisers would give clients increased access to advice and a wider choice of how that advice service is delivered. We really can’t afford to wait another 30 years for this to change.

In terms of this week’s highlights, I have been given a head’s up on the publication of the OECD’s report “Pensions at a glance” due on Tuesday. Read it if you have time (and access), or if you prefer the girlie point of view I will try to provide highlights in next week’s blog.