Women are outnumbered 10 to one by men in the financial planning profession, according to recent Financial Conduct Authority statistics. This is a big gap, which clearly needs to be addressed.
As a young female financial planner, the male dominance in our profession was one of the first things I noticed. I remember going to seminars and seeing a sea of male faces – mainly older male faces. I found it quite intimidating.
I think things have improved. I am coming across more women in financial planning, but there is still a long way to go.
When it comes to paraplanning, I do not think the gender gap is quite so wide. The stereotype of the traditional IFA role is that it is about the machismo of hard selling, but this does not apply to paraplanning. When attending paraplanner-focused seminars and meet-ups you tend to see more women on the list compared with a seminar targeting financial planners.
Professionals in both roles need to help bridge the gender gap. We need to encourage more young women to choose a career in financial planning, whether as an adviser or paraplanner. It is a rewarding profession and women are good at it. We are good listeners and are empathetic to client needs – qualities that are essential to both financial planning and paraplanning.
To encourage more young men and women into the profession, we should engage more with schools and make students aware of what a rewarding and enjoyable profession this can be.
I recently helped out with a careers event in Liverpool run by the local insurance institute where students were able to learn more about financial planning as a potential career path. We need to engage children’s interest in paraplanning and financial advice, regardless of gender or background.
Carly Dunningham is a paraplanner and IFA at Pavis Chartered Financial Planners