The lack of women in the upper echelons of the financial advice industry is stifling businesses’ success, State Street Global Advisors has said ahead of International Women’s Day this Thursday.
Speaking to Australian media from the US, State Street Global Advisors vice president and head of practice management for the global SPDR business Brie Williams said closing the gender gap should be a “business imperative”.
“The fact is that companies that practice gender and cultural diversity, and sustain that culture of inclusiveness, grow in their effectiveness,” she said.
“What they’re able to do is secure the best talent, they make better strategic decisions, they produce more relevant products and services that mirror the market, and as a result they achieve superior financial results for their firm, as well as for their clients.”
Ms Williams said a failure to correct the gender imbalance and subsequent loss of diversity of thought would present the industry with “some serious consequences”, including a reduced talent pool, loss of competitive advantage and a limited ability to meet client needs.
“As an industry we’ve recognised that advisers must be drawn from a larger, more diverse pool, but thus far it’s done little to hold itself accountable for change,” she said.
“To effect serious change and address the lack diversity, we need male and female leaders to acknowledge the problem of gender bias.”
Integra Financial Services director and former AFA Deborah Kent added that current advisers should look to support female staff (including those in administrative positions who may be interested in becoming advisers) into more senior roles.
“Please identify women in your business and ask them – tap them on the shoulder, see what their career path is, and assist them in having the confidence to move to that next level,” Ms Kent said.
“Give them the flexibility, as you would men, to take the issue of ‘how am I going to do this’ out, encourage them to go out and network, find a mentor, and work with them to build them up.”
Ms Kent, who is a former AFA national president and currently serves as the only practising adviser on the FASEA board, said practices should look to implement internal programs to help women’s professional development.
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