Greater gender diversity needed to reflect broader client base

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.

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“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.”

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We would hire a competent female planner if offered the option but it's true, there are not many that seem to want to take on that role.

Women in the industry are generally very competent technically but many seem comfortable with technical/para type roles and when I've asked many have said they prefer the technical side and aren't enthused by the front of house role.

I do think family commitments make paraplanning much easier to meld responsibilities is also a contributing factor.

The industry would be better placed if we could get more females into front of house roles. Ladies, how do we do this? I'd be on board to help.

Whilst I’m fully in support of women and good advisers, being both I’d like to think, I dispute this notion that women get worse advice from male advisers. They get treated poorly by bad advisers of any gender. Sadly at least 2 major advice businesses set up by women for women failed. So did the chain of guns set up by women for women. I’ve lots of female advise friends and I’ve never met a woman who felt she couldn’t be an adviser. Boyd club, maybe, probably, but that hasn’t stopped women. I think the reality is that the continuing education changes and requirements have made it even harder for anyone taking a career break to get back into advice. And it’s still more women than men who do that for kids. So if we made it easier to take breaks and come back it would go a long way, and perhaps if it was really less about sales targets and more about care on the whole that may help, rather than worry about gender stereotyping men.

Well said

Sorry about the typos....

...should have had your girl friday or secretary type it up for you!

As a one of the 20% I have to agree that it feels as though I'm working in a boys club. I've had a number female clients come my way because they felt that their male planner was talking down to them and didn't appreciate their life journey and the impact that it has had on their finances. The sometimes extra long hours required to meeting ever increasing compliance requirements and the preference for only hiring full time planners don't help in trying to increase female planners and can make moving to a back office type role more appealing if you have to balance family responsibilities.

I doubt that gender influences the quality of advice. That said the females I know in the industry are outstanding. It appears though that Financial planning is not a preferred choice for many of them which is disappointing.

The generalisations stated in the article about an enitre industry being a Boys Club in my experience are misguided. The quotes from the adviser clearly have an agenda behind them. This seems to be the familiar story of 'I'm a female and my gender alone puts me in a better position to provide advice to other females, especially when all males in the industry are part of a Boys Club'. I hope you can see the absurdity of this statement. Sure lets all work to get more female advisers in the industry, but the arguments being put forward in this article are counter-productive.

Well said. There is always an agenda behind these things, and normally it is a drum beating PR exercise to generate themselves more business.

Met some great female planners, met some utter shite ones, same with guys.

Have had 4 great female staff members who did the study to be a planner and then either due to children, ongoing study commitments , the reality of the compliance and personal financial risks and litigation issues involved with being an advice providers etc decided they were happy in a well paid back office job, where they could go home at 5.00pm (or 2.30pm for those picking up children).

I also dare say that ASIC & industry funds working in conjunction over the last 12+ years with countless media releases around how planners can't be trusted and that essentially we're all crooks and shonky, would also be a large emotional deterrent especially for females to even want to join the coal face our profession in front of clients.

To blame the disproportionate numbers on the old chestnut of a 'boys club' is not only short sighted and inane, it reeks of desires for personal publicity moral grandstanding & virtue signalling. If anything, given the content of this article, I now think less of those people and their overly simplistic views and lack of ability to think through a matter to any real depth.

I was a 20%'er. I still work in the industry, but I left advising in part due to the boy's club mentality. The final straw was the year I exceeded my scorecard on all metrics and had zero complaints or compliance issues, very happy clients, yet was denied my bonus that year purely because the MD at the time thought that "family men" should get the $, and as I had a high income earning partner (which he formed this impression solely on the organisation he worked for) I didn't "need" the money. He said this to my face when I called him out. And in fact, me even backing myself to call him out meant I was "unreasonably taking money from men who needed to feed their families". Applying for alternative roles I was asked if I was planning on having a family - and when I said yes - told to my face that while I seemed like a great candidate the firm wouldn't hire women who'd go on mat leave. Just disgusting. Thankfully most of the men holding these views have left the industry or been pushed out due to the FASEA reforms. This sort of behaviour in times past definitely contributes to the lack of women in the industry, especially in client-facing roles. Things have definitely changed though, I see many younger women becoming great advisers these days.

I can't believe this kind attitude still exists. Aren't dinosaurs extinct?

no there are few left yet waiting to die. can't wait. just die you stupid old white men. no one wants you that's why you got divorced

Which was what, about 20 years ago? Not really relevant today is it, while those in the article is trying to pretend that it still exists today. Thank you for illustrating how much things have changed for the better, and how deluded the content of the article actually is.

It was in the mid/late-2000's. Those were just two scenarios, there were others I experienced. Almost all the men who gave me grief in those days have left the industry, either retirement or their licensee forcing them out for various reasons. There's only a few who remain. From my perspective, times are very different now. I consistently observe terrific men who fully support their team equally - irrespective of gender. Which is as it should be. I find it disheartening that a male is slamming his own gender by his words now, on a scenario he's never actually experienced, based on an industry culture that's all but extinct. I would've loved to have seen these sentiments published 10-15 years ago. It took a new generation of male industry leaders and very tenacious women to keep hanging in there despite the challenges, that has spawned the changes we see today and will keep seeing in future. Frankly, this piece is virtue signalling at it's finest.

Thank you for being so honest and frank and I wholeheartedly agree with you.

I started as a very green young 20-something year old male a little before you in a large institution and the culture was rife with all forms of activities that would be frowned upon now.

A particular instance was a much older female regional manager attempting to bully me into bed with her at a conference after groping my butt several times throughout the evening. Not nice for either sex to be put in an awkward situation like that, so again thank you for being so up front and I agree, for the vast majority of circumstances and businesses that type of behaviour has largely been stamped out and this article actually denigrates all the work and achievements that has made that a reality.

A good point to raise. I've never personally seen it, but heard stories of younger men being harassed. Glad you hung in there too.

I remember 23 years ago when I qualified as a financial planner, my "mentor" financial planner told me to find a different career path because people wouldn't take financial advice from a woman. I am very glad I didn't take that advice. I love financial planning. I have found being self-employed is the best way to manage time commitments and the need for work-life flexibility. I don't view our industry in terms of gender, I just see peers.

My 2 AFSLs have more women Financial Advisers than guys for more than the last 5 years. Because the guys die from old age first, I have more women clients who rely on advice continuation. Academic gender diversity equivocation and conjecture is irrelevant when Corporations ACT and ASIC RG244 Best Interests Duty is subject to appropriate advising activities, which is more reflective of Confucian philosophy "Service Conception of Authority" in client primacy.

Wow all this talk of the old days, anyone know if Hugh McLelland is still in the industry?

I guess it's just like nursing.... all those trained, ethical, female nurses and after 20 years, nothing much has changed. All these women still unable to meet the specific needs of their gender diverse patients.... oh wait..... I must have missed that headline????

A " collaborative practice financial neutral specialist " What Tha ??
" But often what I am finding is that I need to spend time individually with women in a couple......" ???
Do you also spend an equal time with the male member of the couple individually to ensure the neutrality of your collaborative process is satisfied ?
Quite obviously, both males and females can be equally highly successful financial advisers if they have the appropriate knowledge level, personal relationships skill set and business acumen.
To continually refer to financial planning as an old boys club is for the purpose of what ??????
If the industry has been dominated by men for many years, it is not their fault for doing so and it is not their fault there are not more women involved. Perhaps it is simply not attractive enough to enough women ?
That's like men whinging that nursing and teaching may be often seen as a majority " womens club ".
It doesn't help or improve the situation by blaming those involved for the lack of gender diversification.
Proposals of mandated gender quotas for any industry is just wrong.
I agree that attracting many more females to financial advising is most important in order to provide balance, however, if you have had a good look at the financial advice space in the last few years it is not hard to understand why not only females would be apprehensive but why anyone in their right mind would wish to commence a career right now.

I suppose it is always just a matter of time before woke identity politics is brought up.
The greatest concern in the article is that an adult could be "shocked and horrified" over the FPA having 20% female representation. If that's what it takes to bring shock and horror, then we need more safe spaces.

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