Financial advice network Openwork has urged the UK financial services industry to work together to attract more women into the sector and specifically into financial advice.
Its Inspiring Women in Financial Services conference was attended by more than 100 female advisers, planners and employees and focused on recruitment strategies to better engage with women on opportunities in the sector.
Speaking at the conference, Claire Oldstein, Openwork’s marketing director, said: “Women are hugely under-represented in the UK advice community with industry estimates that just 11% of advisers are female.
“The financial services industry needs to address the issue of women missing out not just on jobs as advisers but also on senior leadership positions. The progress made by the Treasury Select Committee’s Women in Finance inquiry is very welcome but change needs to accelerate.
“Openwork’s Inspiring Women in Financial Services conference has been an important step in focusing on gender distribution in financial services. In 2019 we aim to turn up the volume on this issue and campaign with our partners to focus on gender imbalances.”
Sonia Wheeler, one of the conference panellists and managing director at Essential Wealth Management, an Openwork member firm, added: “Financial advice offers excellent career prospects and it’s important that we communicate the opportunities that are available so we can bring more women into advice and planning roles.”
Oldstein added: “At Openwork we have already taken measures to tackle under-representation; reviewing recruitment and internal promotion practices, becoming a member of the Women in Finance Charter, encouraging flexible working, and delivering a leadership development programme to provide the skills needed for senior management roles.”
During the conference the all-female audience heard inspirational speeches from the event’s host, Rose St Louis, director of strategic partnerships at Zurich, Holly Mackay, chief executive of finance website Boring Money and Standard International’s Michelle Hoskin.
Topics included: the barriers to women seeking financial advice, developing a career in financial services, and building a successful financial services business.
The advice network is already working to address the gender gap at its own business with a review of recruitment and promotion practices, as well as launching a leadership development programme to support women.