Equality in the workplace has been a hot topic for quite some time, and the financial advice industry is no exception. A recent study from the Personal Finance Society suggested financial planning organisations should be doing more to help female employees “shatter the glass ceiling” and reach top-paying roles.

Personal Experience

Speaking personally, the stereotype of financial planning firms being dominated by men, and with women only being employed in supporting roles, doesn’t reflect my experience. I have never felt ‘held back’ in my career as a financial adviser, and I’ve been very well supported in terms of getting my qualifications and being encouraged to keep moving up the career ladder.

Language barrier

I do think though, that the lack of women in financial advice roles is part of a broader problem within society, where large numbers of women still believe the financial world isn’t ‘for them’.

Language is often the biggest barrier, and financial jargon too often leaves people feel excluded or intimidated – women in particular. For example, the terminology in our industry is inherently male – whether talking about a ‘hawkish’ Bank of England, or a ‘bull’ or ‘bear’ market, or even about how an investment has achieved ‘market-beating’ returns. This deeply ingrained masculine language has the effect of presenting investing as a manly pursuit, even though women are better investors.

Gender Stereotypes

A 2018 Starling Bank study looked at 300 financial articles aimed at men and women, and found a clear pattern of gender stereotypes. For example:

  • 70% of articles aimed at men emphasised making money was a masculine ideal, and monetary success and financial literacy were essential to enhancing personal status.
  • 65% of articles defined women as excessive spenders, and advised them to limit shopping ‘splurges’, save small sums or depend on financial support.

So, if we want to encourage more women into financial adviser roles, a good starting place would be to re-examine the way we talk to men and women about financial products and services in general.


I want to see women educated much sooner about the importance of achieving financial independence, and both men and women being taught to feel more comfortable with the financial world, particularly asking for professional advice when it’s needed.

Doing this would create a naturally more inclusive environment for women, which would lead to more women in financial services leadership roles. And with more women actively seeking financial advice, the financial planning industry would grow organically to accommodate their needs and to help them achieve their goals.

Equal Opportunity

Things are changing for the better, and we’re living in a time when more women consider themselves as financially independent than ever before. But women within financial services don’t want to be defined only by their gender. They want to be given the same career opportunities as men, and earn their place on merit. Firms like Pareto are playing a key role in this, and while there’s still some way to go, I see the financial advice industry as being more inclusive now than it ever was.

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