Published in The Financial Standard 19 December 2017.
New research shows more women are considering a career in financial advice and have a positive outlook on the future of the industry.
A joint study conducted by BT Financial Group (BTFG) and the Financial Services Council (FSC), which canvassed 800 respondents, found more women are opting for a career in financial advice as early as university.
About two-thirds (67%) of females aged between 25 and 34 are choosing a career in financial advice, while those in the same age bracket currently working in the industry have been able to fast-track their careers, spending less time in support roles (less than five years) and progressing to adviser roles.
However, many women in this age group cited a "sales targets culture" as the main barrier to starting a career in advice - a sentiment synonymous with sales and remuneration practices the industry is progressively moving away from.
"Hitting sales targets and the reputation of the profession were increasingly more top of mind for the younger advisers entering the industry. This highlights an opportunity for the industry to inform and educate new entrants on expectations around sales targets and directly address industry reputation issues," the Attitude towards women in financial advice report said.
BT Advice and Private Wealth General Manager Jane Watts said millennials particularly are looking for career opportunities that align with their values, and there is an opportunity to link the strong social purpose that advice offers with the value-driven career millennials seek.
The majority (82%) of women said the opportunity to help people is attractive and the sense of satisfaction from helping clients is the top reason why they stay in the profession.
In terms of skills, those with experience said despite the profession being closely linked to financial metrics and planning, having an aptitude for numeracy ranks low on the list of what's important.
Less than one-in-five advisers (16%) said numerical skills holds them in good stead, while the majority (77%) said it's more important to be able to build strong relationships with clients.
Conversely, females aged over 50 said their career in financial advice began much later in their professional lives; more than half (51%) entered the industry with direct experience or knowledge of the profession. Two-in-five said they had no concerns about entering the industry.
The study also canvassed customers, who said there is no age or gender preference when it comes to receiving financial advice, but rated females higher on emotional intelligence and empathy attributes.
FSC Chief Executive Sally Loane said: "As the research shows, women are naturally suited to this people-focused profession and career prospects are very good. The financial advice industry will benefit from an influx of young, dynamic and highly skilled female talent."