Over past decades, women have become increasingly visible in the finance sector, taking on varied roles from mortgage advice to accounting. But research has found that they find it difficult to progress as much as they’d like to.
A recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) revealed that many young women are put off joining the financial services sector because they don’t believe they can progress.
65% of the women surveyed did not think they would be able to rise to a senior position within their current organisation, compared with less than 30% of men in the same sector, and 50% of women in other sectors.
Half of the women working in financial services believed that their employers were biased towards promoting men into higher positions, and 34% had left their last finance role because of a lack of opportunities.
Babington’s experience shows that enthusiasm from young women to enter finance roles is alive and kicking. Between July 2013 and 2015, 57% of learners on our finance-related programmes have been female. This includes courses and apprenticeships in insurance, mortgage advice and accounting.
We asked one of our learners, Jade Holloway, to tell us about her experience. Jade decided to work towards the Level 3 Certificate in Providing Financial Services with Babington, after taking on a role with insurance brokerage firm Mercer Jones and Company Ltd as part of a Business Administration apprenticeship.
After this, she went on to study towards the Charted Insurance Institute (CII) Certificate in Insurance. Jade says, “I am now qualified within my job after 5 years, which is a massive achievement for me.”
She decided to pursue a career in insurance because she found it so varied, telling us that “There are so many different things you can do; no day is ever the same!”
In the future, Jade would like to go into a more senior position, such as Account Executive or Supervisor. With her experience within a financial services organisation where women heavily outweigh men in senior positions, she says that she has never worried about competing with the opposite sex when it comes to her career.
The future of women in finance
Nearly 90% of young women in financial services roles surveyed by PwC said they felt that employers’ policies on diversity and equality were important when choosing a job role.
Jon Terry, PwC’s financial services HR consulting leader, said: “This should be a wake-up call for those in the financial services sector to bring their diversity policies to life.” He stressed the importance of creating a structure “where women can thrive and not be stifled”, and of encouraging young women to develop through female role models at all levels in organisations.
Questioning financial services CEOs, PwC found that 60% now have a strategy in place to promote diversity, and 85% of organisations employing this kind of strategy have found that it enhances business performance. With such impressive results, perhaps we can expect other organisations to follow suit.
The latest Chief Executive report from Strategy& found that only 10% of financial services CEOs are currently women, but predicts that this will rise to a third by 2040. From our perspective of working with young women eager to develop successful careers in finance, we are optimistic about this forecast.
Just looking at accounting, the profile of women in the industry has improved hugely over the last decade. Take a look at our infographic.