Women have long been under-served by the financial advisory sector, but this is now changing, according to deVere Switzerland. DeVere's comments come as another advisory firm, Quilter, announces a narrowing of its gender pay gap.
DeVere Switzerland area manager, Daniel O'Leary, said: "There are an increasing number of women-focused networks, events and initiatives but very few really drilling into the solution and ‘how to' aspect of women achieving their financial goals and independence.
"But with a strong presence of women consultants in our office - more than 25%, which is considerably ahead of industry average - we are uniquely placed to help address the issue of women being historically under served by the financial advisory sector. This is why we launched Women and Finance, an invitation-only event which was fully-booked within days. The strong demand is evident."
Indeed, it appears to be one of the fastest growing areas of the industry. Recent estimates suggest that a third of the world's private wealth is now in the hands of women. Research from Boston Consulting suggests that this number could hit £54 trillion by 2020.
The Women & Finance summit was led by three female wealth managers from deVere, Cecilia Medayil, Alison Drewell and Zalina Walchli, who said that women face particular financial planning issues.
"These can include a lack of self-confidence, a lack of knowledge, a reliance on men, and thinking that ‘now' isn't a good time to start," said Medayil.
"There is also the issue of gender pay inequality, difficulties re-entering the workforce after a career break to raise a family, and finding it hard to adapt to a regular savings habit," added Walchli.
Alison Drewell said: "Women think and act differently. They usually opt for lower risk investments and have more focus on non-financial goals."
However, "there are more and more women financial advisors in the sector, helping drive the seismic shift in attitudes," noted Medayil.
Minding the gap
Quilter today publishes its gender pay gap report and while improvements have been made, the company recognises that more needs to be done to close the gap and create more gender balance throughout the organisation.
Since its first report last year, Quilter has made progress. The mean pay gap has reduced from 39% to 35% and the median bonus gap has improved slightly, dropping from 41% to 39%. Remaining flat from last year however is the median pay gap at 29% and average (mean) bonus gap at 70%.
In 2017, Quilter set a minimum target to make its senior management community at least 35% female, but ideally 40% female, by the end of 2020. Quilter's executive committee is now 21% female, compared to 8% in 2017 and its total senior management community is now 34% female. However, the company recognises that this still does not represent its total work force which is almost half female.
Quilter has identified the leading causes for why there continues to be a gender pay gap in the business. More men occupy senior management and revenue-generating roles, whilst more women occupy junior roles and more women are in part-time roles.
The company has been looking at its recruitment and development programmes, policies and systems and importantly its culture in a bid to find ways to improve its gender pay gap. The business has identified some changes it can make relatively quickly and easily to improve results, while others will take more time for the results to filter through.
Quilter is also working with others in the industry to address industry wide barriers to diversity through its membership of the Diversity Project and as a signatory to the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter.