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Licensees called on to step up on gender

Dealer group executives and practice principals could be doing more to encourage the number of women working in the financial planning sector, according to an Association of Financial Advisers board member.

Speaking at the launch of the AFA Inspire initiative in Sydney last week, Inspire chair and AFA board member Deborah Kent – who is also managing director of Integra Financial Services – said that while programs like Inspire are essential, the responsibility also lies with industry executives.

“I think licensees could be doing a lot more to encourage women into their networks and also to encourage their aligned businesses that might be male-dominated to get women to step up within those businesses and take bigger roles,” she told ifa.

“Ideally a good financial planning practice has a mix of male and female advisers, who offer different attributes to clients.”

The call was seconded by 2012 Female Excellence in Advice award recipient Christine Hornery, who runs FMS Financial Management Solutions on the NSW Central Coast, who gave the keynote address at the event launch.

“Licensees need to provide an easier road for intake. Some do have a part-time offering so that female advisers can upskill while also running households, but there really does need to be a more flexible approach,” she said. “If licensees were more flexible, it would inspire more women to enter the industry.”

BT Financial Group (BTFG) internal communications manager Cate Hawley agreed that licensees need to take responsibility for the “action part of this industry revolution” and highlighted some of the work BT is doing on the gender equality front.

“BTFG is very committed to raising the number of women advisers on our dealer channels - we have programs in place to double the number of female planners. Our goal is to go from 26 per cent to 45 per cent female on our bank financial planning channels over the next couple of years,” she said.

“I think it’s amazing that these professionals are now getting together and discussing issues in the industry.”