The financial adviser industry is a “boy’s club” and the lack of gender representation could leave the financial wellbeing of women behind.
Data from HFS Consulting showed that women were drastically underrepresented as financial advisers, with around only 20% of advisers being women.
Simeon Levin, financial adviser and Fitzpatricks Private Wealth authorised representative, said there was a lot of women who worked in the industry, but they tended to be in support roles rather than adviser roles.
“It shocked and horrified me when I joined the industry back in 2001, I was doing research about the financial planning industry and two out of 10 members of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) were women so it seems like that hasn’t changed much in 20 odd years,” Levin said.
“I don’t know what we need to do to attract more women in the industry, but we do need to get rid of the boys club mentality, that’s the first thing.
“We need to embrace gender diversity a lot more in our industry, it’s been really dominated by men for many years and it still sometimes feels like it’s an old boys club.”
A lack of women advisers meant that women were at the risk of having their specific needs not being catered to.
“I had some clients who left another adviser relationship and came across to me because their adviser would not engage with the female in the couple,” Levin said.
“When he talked to the couple, asked a question or sent out an email it was directed to her partner; she felt completely marginalised by that arrangement.
“One of things I’m mindful of when engaging clients is that we engage both people in the couple.”
Levin’s role as a collaborative practice financial neutral specialist meant she would be opted in for resolution disputes – like separations and divorces – to assist clients in financial settlements.
“Collaborative practice is about ensuring that we’re representing the needs, interests and concerns of both parties in a relationship,” Levin said.
“But often what I’m finding is that I need to spend time individually with women in a couple to help educate them, skill them up and guide them to provide them with information, to get them to a level where they can actually understand the financial implications of a settlement.
“But there’s often this piece before that where we can help give women confidence to be able to negotiate their settlement from a position of knowledge as opposed to fear and unknowing.”