INDUSTRY VOICE: The advice gap in the UK cannot be understated. There are just 25,000 advisers to cover the entire adult population of the UK, meaning advisers are outnumbered six to one by lawyers and 12 to one by accountants
An undeniable truth is that closing the gap is a necessity. What should be factored into those strategies is that people like to feel they are getting relatable advice that is personalised to them.
At the moment, the sector is a long way from offering this dream. Despite making up half the population, estimates show that approximately only 11% of UK advisers are female across the sector.
Mind the gap
That gender gap is having an impact. A recent study from Kantar showed that women find the world of financial services "aggressively masculine," which puts them off purchasing financial products and getting financial advice.
So financial advisers might need to think differently to ensure their clients are comfortable with the investments they are making, but still setting them up for prosperity in later life.
Indeed, our research shows that in general, women tend to be slightly more risk averse than their male counterparts. For example, 84% of women aged 50-75 years old are uncomfortable taking risks for financial rewards, compared to 64% of men.*
And it's not just risk appetite that varies between men and women, they also have different priorities for their money. For example, our research shows that women are three times more likely than men to retire for family reasons.
I believe that one of the best ways to prevent women feeling excluded from the financial advice world is to bring more women into the profession. Something that is easily said, but may not be so easily done.
The Financial Adviser School is committed to encouraging more women to enter the advice field. We are proud that over 30% of our students are women.
We've caught up with our female graduates on how they are finding the industry and they have stressed that they think it's a great industry for women. As long as you're a person that can adapt and build strong relationships with a range of different people, this is a career that will suit.
As we continue to develop our FAS programme, we look at groups that may not have traditionally considered the career.
Recently, Quilter launched a Returner Programme which, with our return-to-work specialist partner, aims to create supported routes back into work for women who have been out of the industry for an extended career break.
The financial advice industry is uniquely attractive for women returners, particularly those returning from maternity leave. The beauty of being a financial adviser is dictating your own schedule and work hours. So for those who need to pick their children up from school or attend a parent-teacher conference, they have that flexibility.
*Research from Retirement Income Uncovered: Freedoms in Focus, which was conducted by YouGov, who surveyed over 1,500 UK adults between the ages of 50 and 75.
Darren Smith is head of the Financial Adviser School