Workplace culture to blame for low number of female advisers

Workplace culture and inflexible hours could be responsible for the low numbers of women in financial advice, according to new research in the Australian Journal of Management.

Women constitute only 20 per cent of Australian and 23.5 per cent of New Zealand financial advisers. Joint research by the University of Otago and RMIT University Melbourne found that difficulties in networking and “the gendered nature of flexible work” could be inhibiting women’s careers in financial advice.

“These factors aren’t necessarily wrong from an employment law perspective, however we’ve discovered they significantly impact career progression and job satisfaction for female advisers,” said Dr Helen Roberts.

The fact that women are often the primary caregiver for family means that may have difficulties in building long-term client bases or taking part in after-hours networking opportunities. The nature of those networking opportunities can also be part of the problem.

“Women we spoke to talked about barriers such as male dominated networking events being uncomfortable experiences as they often centred around alcohol,” said associate professor Rosalind Whiting.

“Those type of events might work well for men in a male-dominated industry, however for a female adviser they are often a negative experience, and the women prefer to network in other ways.”

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The study – 'Female Financial Advisers – Where Art Thou' – suggested that the industry could normalise part-time work opportunities for all employees while providing a route for advancement from a part-time position to an advising role and promote changes in culture to champion recruitment and retention of women.

According to Dr Richards, women could also overcome some of the barriers by “finding the ‘right’ manager, receiving mentoring, selective networking and establishing a partnership arrangement with another adviser”.

Workplace culture to blame for low number of female advisers
Female advisers
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