Women in finance — experts reflect on their experiences

In celebration of today being International Women’s Day (#IWD2022), we talk to women in wealth management about their roles and whether they believe things have changed in recent years.

We thank Tania Allerton, Susana Coutinho, Jayne Newton, Diana Rose and Grazia Cozzi for sharing their own work experiences with us.

 

Reflecting on her experience in the industry, Tania Allerton, Head of UK Advisory Distribution at Vanguard UK, claims she has seen a considerable change in terms of women in finance since beginning her career. Tania comments:

“Firstly, in the main, the industry now embraces gender differences instead of trying to squeeze women into the perceived “male mould” (I was twice advised to take up golf as it was suggested by management that the lack of that skill would hold me back in my career!) The recognition of the need for flexibility to enable women to work around family commitments has moved significantly too and many firms now allow part-time or flexible hours. It’s still not perfect but it has moved a long way.”

She continues, “Financial services seek to meet the needs of a whole cross section of society and that cross section needs to be represented at all levels in the firms and business providing the service. I think the advice I would give to young women entering FS today is different to the advice I received back in my early career when it was all about behaving more like the men to “fit in”. Today I would say embrace the skills you bring, understand their value and how they compliment those of others around you. Soft skills, where women are often strong, are highly valued in today’s workplace and especially with client facing work.”

“There is still the very real need for female role models to stand up and inspire the next generation. When looking in from the outside, financial services still appears lopsided in it’s representation, so women who are successful and passionate about the industry need to continue to advocate for it and the opportunities it offers. Employers who recognise that women are often motivated in different ways will also succeed in attracting and retaining the best talent.”


Susana Coutinho, Research Director at ESG analysts MainStreet Partners
, agrees with Tania that the industry has seen positive change and appears to be heading in the right direction, despite there still being more work to do. She says:

“The environment for women has definitely changed. I can’t say we are where we want to be in terms of diversity and inclusion and there is still a wide gender pay gap but at least the awareness for these issues has raised in the past few years and it is now quite common to find Human Resources teams willing to address it and recruitment processes incorporating these concerns into their policies. I’ve noticed progresses on the policy/processes being spread relatively quick within the industry while the progress “on the field” is taking longer because we also need to change the mindset and that’s what is so difficult to change.”

Susana promotes women and diversity and inclusion in the workplace, adding:

“I believe it is such a rewarding career in terms of the influence we, as women, can have to change the system, to make it better, fair and transparent, diverse and sustainable. Women are usually more sensitive of social and environmental aspects and our decisions tend to be very balanced and wise. Although I may be a little bit biased here!

“In addition, an inclusive organisation favours productivity by raising the sense of belonging and willingness to achieve common goals. A major benefit of inclusive organisations is improvements in communication across the business: inclusive organisations give more opportunities to everyone to express their ideas, and this is an important contribution to innovation. The more inclusive that organisation is, the more diverse it can get. And the more diverse it is, the more productive and innovative it can be.”


Jayne Newton, Director of Regulatory Expertise at Efficient Frontiers International,
 emphasizes the importance of diversity and inclusion to her company, commenting:

“I’m the leadership team sponsor for Diversity and Inclusion and we have a team of advocates here at EFI to ensure that our teams understand that diversity and inclusion is everyone’s responsibility and to bring the agenda to life. It’s crucial for our people to feel they work in a supportive, diverse and inclusive environment to help them be the best they can be and feel comfortable to be themselves at work.”

Jayne shares some tips for women seeking a career in financial services:

“Working in financial services is a rewarding career with a large range of disciplines to choose from within organisations. My top tips are:

  1. seek out sponsors to coach and mentor you during your career to learn from people with a variety of experience;

  2. develop and practice your assertiveness skills and have confidence to challenge situations that make you feel uncomfortable; and

  3. make bold and informed choices.”


Diana Rose, Head of ESG Research at Insig AI,
 also provides some tips for women starting out in the industry. She says:

“I’d encourage young women to seek a career wherever their values and interests lie, and their aspirations and ambitions can be met. 

In terms of tips from my personal experience:

  1. The people you choose to work with are key to making a success of any role
  2. Don’t let anyone pigeon-hole you – be bold in breaking down barriers
  3. Look out for mentors and female role models – I’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredible women who’ve supported me in growing throughout my career.”

Finally, Grazia Cozzi, Head of Fund Management at EFGAM Switzerland, makes the following comment in regard to women seeking a career in financial services:

“You must have a strong commitment, trust in yourself, be proud of yourself, never give up and keep going whatever the future holds. But all this only makes sense if you really love your job, otherwise change it and reinvent yourself. This applies to all jobs. What is important is that you, as a woman, believe that you have the same capabilities/skills as a man. Women bring a different approach to solving issues; a thoughtful, problem-solving approach using analysis versus a more typically male-oriented aggressive approach.”


Story originally appeared on fca.org.uk

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