02 Sep 2016

Women in Finance: Fiona Price and not a pink logo in sight

The recently released charter from HM Treasury set out to seek to equal the gender gap in finance and especially at Board level.  From a financial advice point of view, I have always failed to understand why there are not more females in this industry; but then sometimes you just have to have a bit of a thick skin!

My own first role as an adviser was with a direct sales company and when I gave in my notice I overheard my boss say to one of his male colleagues that I was nothing but “a housewife in a suit”. However that was not what my clients felt and 90% of them came with me as I ventured forth into the world of Independent Financial Advice (IFA).

The role of an IFA suited my way of life perfectly. I was self employed, married, with two young girls. I would go into work during school hours, see clients, arrange appointments and do my paper work.  I’d then work a couple of evenings a week seeing clients in their homes.  The only difficult time was during the school summer holidays; but then I had a brilliant mum who took over during those weeks.

I have to say though that most of the seminars I attended were very much male dominated; so in order not to blend in I would purposely wear colourful suits and jackets. After all I was proud of the job I was doing and also proud of my gender.

One of my financial advice heroes at the time was Fiona Price, because she too took a good deal of stick from male counterparts when she announced that she was planning to set up a practice of female financial advisers specifically to give advice to female clients. A number of her colleagues at the time called her crazy; well that was the polite version!

Comments such as “why do women need financial advice” were prevalent, but in fact the press found her business model fresh and unique. She won awards, made TV appearances and built up her successful business remarkably quickly. Her investment in the business paid off so much so that she was eventually able to sell it and make a very nice profit.

So now, some twenty or so years on, do we still need to ask whether there are as many women in finance as we would like? Sadly I don’t think there are and the recent HM Treasury charter seems to me to say it all.

However I am pleased to say that I am now with a company that does buck the trend.  I was appointed as a Director of our subsidiary company, while our parent company currently has a board comprising four women and four men; in fact both our CEO and Chairman are female.

However I am sad to report that there are currently no female advisers in our Network and I feel it is a very important objective that we look to change that situation as soon as possible.

When I was working at the Cheshire Building Society most of our branch managers were in fact women and most took on the role of Mortgage advisers. So where are you now?

If you would like to see for yourself just how different our Network is from many of the others that are out there, would like to work exactly how you want to, as long as it is compliant, and be able to work with people who talk your language and understand that you are unique; then please give us a call today. Debbie will be your first point of contact and we would very much like you to join us to increase our numbers of female advisers.

By the way our colours are blue and yellow, not pink; there are some things that really don’t need to be.

By Wendy Baker-Rees