Celebrating International Women's Day 2024

We spoke to five of our advisers about being a woman in the financial advice industry, and what it means to our clients.

Today marks International Women’s Day, which celebrates gender equality, diversity and the achievements of females across the globe. This is something that’s close to our heart at AFH Wealth Management.

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As a business, we’re committed to providing equal opportunities, while respecting the diversity of our colleagues and clients. We’re proud that 50% of AFH’s board are women, as are many of our financial advisers.

We’re delighted that increasingly, women are choosing a career in financial services, which historically, was a male dominated industry. In particular, there are more female financial advisers, and the numbers continue to grow.

So what attracts women to the role of an adviser, and is it something you too are considering? Read on as we speak to some of our female financial advisers and trainee financial advisers about why they’re proud to do the role they do.

Jade Soutter-Davies

Jade is an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) based in South-West England who first jumped at the chance to learn to be a financial adviser after leaving university:

“I love learning and taking on new challenges. I started studying, and as soon as I did, I realised the breadth of subjects and issues financial services cover.”

When asked about the strengths that women bring to the role of an IFA, Jade told us:

“I think that being a female adviser can bring a softer side to the relationship and it can be quite easy to quickly build a rapport when talking about shared interests or hobbies. I enjoy talking to my clients about all sorts of things, not just finance.”

Jade also told us that one of the main challenges facing women and their finances is that women often underestimate their abilities when it comes to making financial decisions.

“I feel there’s a need to help women feel more empowered around financial matters. As an adviser, I help to change clients' lives for the better, which is so rewarding to see, as well as meeting so many new and interesting people.”

Farzhana Khan

Farzhana is a Diploma-qualified IFA, based in central Scotland, who began her journey into the world of financial advice through the banking sector. Farzhana spoke to us about the benefits to clients of working with a financial adviser:

“I think women are seen as trustworthy and approachable, especially when they’re visiting a client’s home. Some clients may feel more comfortable when they open their front door and see a woman standing there.”

Many women have a career and earn a high salary yet aren’t aware about the need to plan for retirement. Similarly to Olivia’s observation, Farzhana recognises the challenges facing women and the lack of access to essential financial education for women.

“For me, it’s about helping women understand their options around pensions and how their future might look. This provides them with the confidence to make better financial decisions around their retirement, and other areas of their wealth.

For this reason, I work to educate my clients, so that they feel comfortable with their money and can future-proof it.”

Gemma Clarkson

Gemma, based in Leeds, was inspired by her dad to follow in his footsteps. Gemma is now sharing her knowledge with others as an IFA. Gemma said:

“The role is about helping people, and for me, one of the most important lessons I can share is the need to balance planning for the future with enjoying the now. I lost my mum to cancer when she was relatively young, so I’ve always been aware about enjoying the now while making sure you’re financially secure in the future.

“That’s why this job appealed to me as I can help people get the balance right and help them achieve their goals and aspirations both now and in the future.”

Gemma shared that empathy is a great quality to have, as it means that clients are much more comfortable about opening up to their IFA. This results in a better understanding of the client, which means the quality of advice is significantly higher.

“I’ve noticed that women don’t like to talk about finances. I encourage my female clients to discuss money and help them understand the complex world of finance and the options that are available to them.”

Olivia Flanagan

We learnt, through speaking to five of our female financial advisers, that the role is different for everyone.

Routes to becoming an IFA are not always straightforward, and for Olivia, her interests early in her life were more focused on the arts, but she was sold on the IFA career path when she discovered that it’s all about helping others and empowering people.

Olivia, like Jade and Gemma, shared that the natural trait of empathy is a huge strength as a financial adviser. Olivia said:

“When I ask a client what’s happening in their life, it comes across in a natural way, which can help to put clients at ease.”

While women in the financial sector are seeing more support, Olivia shared that she sees a lack of understanding amongst women around finance, because it’s often seen as something men deal with.

“I see husbands worrying that if they die first, their wife will not be able to cope with the finances. That’s why I educate my clients to make good decisions around money. Not only does this make the client feel better, it also helps to put the husband’s mind at rest.”

Sheena Lynch

Here at AFH Wealth Management, we have welcomed cohorts of aspiring IFAs to learn and become exceptional advisers, putting clients at the heart of everything we do. When we interviewed Sheena, she was in the process of becoming a qualified IFA. Sheena said:

“My aunty was a businesswoman and a role model to me. Because of this, I realised that I wanted to inspire others to get more from life, which is why I became interested in a career in finance.”

Sheena has a genuine interest in all of her clients and wants the best for them. As a result, she has a desire to pass on her knowledge to her clients, helping to educate them.

“Creating long-lasting, working relationships with clients can come easier to women, as there is sometimes a more natural tendency to communicate and relate to others in an engaging way.”

We asked Sheena about the main challenges she sees facing women and their finances. She said:

“The lack of understanding around financial protection, and the implications that not having it could have.

“I have seen far too many Crowdfund pages for funerals when financial protection may have provided the funds to deal with the situation. It’s a really important issue facing women, and an adviser could help them to understand how best to future-proof their wealth by creating a financial safety net.”

On International Women’s Day, we want to say a massive thank you to all the inspiring women who help to make AFH what it is.