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Westpac CEO predicts advice industry growth

The future looks bright for the financial planning industry but diversity and gender representation are still significant challenges, according to Westpac group chief executive Gail Kelly.

Speaking at the launch of BT Financial Group’s ‘Stella network’ in Sydney last night, Ms Kelly said the “facts” of female representation in the industry were still “really not very good” but that the tide is turning.

“I believe the financial planning industry is a perfect industry to experiment with a paradigm shift in terms of how we integrate work and life,” Ms Kelly said.

“There’s no doubt that in this industry you can work from home, you can work part-time, you can job share – so it’s a great industry to look at what can be achieved, and online technology will help enable that.”

More broadly the banking chief said the prospects for the wider financial planning industry were solid looking forward.

“This really is a growth industry – just think about superannuation and the need for customers to better understand that – and the point I’d make is that women are really well-placed to succeed in this industry.”

The Stella network aims to connect women across the financial planning industry – not just internally at Westpac-aligned advice channels – “with a view to encouraging more women into the industry, and with a view to providing support and enriching careers,” Ms Kelly said.

The project was officially announced yesterday, with BTFG general manager, advice, Mark Spiers pointing to the need for diversity of voices in the industry.

“By reflecting the broader diversity of the community, we hope to establish more rewarding relationships between financial planners and Australians,” he said.

“Together we need to strengthen the understanding of financial planning as a career and work to develop the employment support that is right for women.

“Australians need more financial advice than ever before and more planners to meet this demand.”