Financial advice needs to appeal to women and make them feel safe, otherwise there will be a struggle to attract talent and gender diversity in the industry, according to a panel.
Speaking at an Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) webinar, Angela Godfrey, director of Angela Godfrey and Associates Change Management, said it was important for firms to maintain strong culture to attract and retain talent.
This meant the industry faced the issue of how to encourage women to feel like they belong as part of the industry. Despite making up over half of the workforce in professional services, they only made up 20% of adviser roles.
Some progress was being made to improve to opportunities and career prospects for women in planning, including the Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) opening its mentoring program for women this week.
AFA Inspire committee member, Georgia Mara, said she joined the organisation to help support women in the industry.
“The reason I joined the AFA Inspire team was to help support women who have had experiences where they’ve not necessarily felt as though they have a sexual harassment claim to make but they’ve been made to feel ridiculed, isolated, uncomfortable within the workplace,” she said.
“For my experiences, I really internalised the messages I received throughout my career, specifically from certain men about the way that I look or the way I present myself.
“It has taken me a lot of time to rebuild a lot of confidence that was lost after some specific events.”
She said AFA Inspire built a community for women and men to talk anonymously about their experiences.
“It’s taken me years [to get over] and even today there will be moments where I get that feeling of imposter syndrome,” she said.
“Like I don’t deserve to be here, I’m not smart enough to be here because I’m just a blonde girl and I’m just here because someone wanted to look at me.
“That message that I heard years ago that I’m still that person and it takes a lot of time and a lot of self-reflection to get over that.
“At the time if I knew there was a channel I could go to, I would have felt a lot of safer and I would have the confidence to leave that workplace a hell of a lot earlier.”