Lack of awareness leads to a skills gap for women

Although genders are relatively balanced in business professions like accounting, more technical fields like investment management and financial planning need better female representation.

Speaking at the Stockbrokers and Investment Advisers Association (SIAA) conference, Yolanda Beattie, founder of Future IM/Pact, said several factors were holding back the representation of women in technical roles.

“It starts in college where women actually enter the typical degrees in business or commerce, economics, science … in roughly equal numbers to men,” Beattie said.

“The problem is the perception and awareness of certain aspects of financial services at the university.”

She said women proportionally followed career paths in areas such as accounting and business consulting, but less so in more technical areas such as financial planning and investment management, which required more experience than just a diploma.

“It’s so rare that you get a graduate that goes straight into investment management and front office investing, for example, it means there’s this gap that happens between college and that career three to five years, where you actually make some of these more specialized decisions.

“What this means is that if a woman in college is unambitious and uninspired to get into investment management or financial planning, she is much less likely to make money. choice outside of college to settle for these junior analyst roles.

Beattie said some of these more technical roles suffered from the “Wolf of Wall Street cliché” that was off-putting to women.

“Yet when you go to a front office investment team it’s much more likely to be a group of very conscientious and thoughtful people solving complex problems than madness that might be displayed by Hollywood.”

Once women moved into technical roles, Beattie said, they faced structural injustice with Future IM/Pact research showing that women were 50% more likely to leave the front office as men and 30% less likely to be promoted compared to men.

“Teams are small, turnover is low, which means it’s very difficult for a fund to tackle all these issues, because of the scale of the problem.”

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