I was recently asked why my LinkedIn Profile says “Female Financial Adviser” as it was evident I was female from both my photo and my name (you know who you are). I replied:
“I am glad I look female although I have been called Alistair Glass more times than I can count on one have and even to my face (much to the amusement of my friends) so it’s nice to have the confirmation I’m not looking too manly! My observation is that there aren’t too many female financial advisers (or young-ish ones for that matter) and I have found that some clients specifically wish to have a female IFA so if perspective clients are searching for one, I just wanted to make it easier for them. And probably to make it blatantly clear I am a bit different too.”
To elaborate, in reality, although there are no “official” figures on the number of women financial advisers, I saw something on Twitter recently that said of 150,000 approved persons, 18% are women. Now, there are nowhere near 150,000 financial advisers in UK (the number was 21,684 in July 2013) but if we assume the ratio is the same, then the profession is very much a male dominated one.
This is something that I have observed at seminars, where there are usually 1 or 2 women in a room of 10-30 advisers (or 6 in a room of 300 once!). Conversely 66% of advisers I have met whilst networking have been female and someone I met commented that it may be a male dominated profession but they only meet women financial advisers networking.
Studies have found women to show more sensitivity and warmth than men and they are also perceived to be better listeners and to have more empathy. These are all qualities that I feel are important in an adviser.
Having said that, the men are doing something right – the reason why I entered the profession was because my dad was a (very good) financial adviser and men (evidently) also have qualities that make them successful financial advisers.
It is understood that people enter into professions that fit their personality and it is curious that in a profession where people relationships are essential, there are not more women advisers. I am currently in the minority and I pride myself of giving the personal touch with great attention to detail to ensure that I understand my clients and they understand their financial plan and the actions we are putting in place.
It was also a promising sign that while sitting an exam last year, 70% of the attendees were female – hopefully a sign of things to come.
Regarding the title of this blog, it is true, I have been called Alistair Glass more times than I can count on one hand. I think it is because if you say Alice Douglass very quickly, it can sound like Alistair Glass. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.