We must improve glacial progress in the gender gap

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There’s one issue we haven’t addressed yet in this special issue on Generations of Advice, and it’s a pretty big one: the gender gap.

What relationship with the generations? Well if you’ve been around for a while you might feel like a lot has changed. I managed to pull out an issue of the 1980 Life Assurance Association’s Prospect magazine, five years before I was born. It contains a brief report on a regional meeting – a woman called Chris Leach, later president of the LIA and currently managing director of Cardiff-based Chris Leach & Associates. ‘A welcome for the feminine approach’ reads the headline. This is how it all begins: “Prospect welcomes Chris Leach, the very first regional ‘president’. May it be the first among many to add a beautiful appearance to the effective management of an LIA region! ‘

I’m not going to mansplain what’s wrong here. When I mentioned the article to Leach, she said she had ignored it at the time. She explained that at the time, women made up only 5% of financial services, “you’ve proven yourself to be better than men.”

Fast forward to the last number of Citywire advisor for new models, in which Charlotte Wood, director of Rosewood Financial Planning, wrote a scathing article about gender discrimination in boards.

“Much is said about the lack of women in this profession. The last figure I read was that only 17% of counselors are women, ”she wrote.

“We all say ‘this is really bad'” and then move on. What we’re not doing is working hard enough to examine why this number is so low, challenge the status quo, and take action.

Wood’s article focused on the ways in which female counselors are still marginalized, excluded and discriminated against in having children – and sometimes even before they have even declared their intention to start a family.

I agree that a profession that seeks to influence the lives of all kinds of people but is made up of only 17% women is itself not suited to its purpose. How can that be?

Is this 17% figure improving? In its 2019 report “Gender Diversity in UK Financial Services”, the FCA indeed found that women represented “around 17% of those approved by the FCA”.


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