Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8 tomorrow, we asked three brokers to share their experiences and thoughts on working in the market as a woman.
I love being a woman in the broker market.
I have been in the finance world since I was 18 years old and in those nine years I have seen such a massive change in the part women play.
I remember when I first started there would be frequent comments from clients and introducers that I was too young or surely I couldn’t be an adviser as I am a woman.
I even had a client refuse to continue with an appointment because he felt “women couldn’t be trusted with money”.
The way I overcame those hurdles have got me to where I am today in my career and I have worked hard to ensure I made my mark in this industry and prove them wrong.
However, the challenges I have faced certainly do not outweigh the benefits and rewards of the role.
I have been given such amazing support and being pushed out of my comfort zone when I was a new adviser really helped my progress, while being supported and treated as equal to my colleagues from the BDMs, my employer and my network.
Being put forward for an award at the British Mortgage Awards was a huge compliment and showed that a strong work ethic and motivation to succeed will be recognised and ultimately rewarded when I won.
This gave me the confidence to say I am good at my job.
Every year since, more and more women are shortlisted for these awards and it is amazing to see.
I am very fortunate to work within a company that empowers women and gives the same opportunities to anyone regardless of who you are.
Honesty and respect go a long way and if you can master that, your gender shouldn’t be an issue.
I read an article the other day that asked: how can it be that girls consistently outperform boys in schools and yet, by the time they reach adulthood and enter into the professional arena, they earn less, occupy fewer leadership roles and generally have lower status and less influence?
This led me to think about our industry, the women I have met that have achieved senior positions within it, and also the role of brokers.
I have met some very inspirational and successful women, Esther Dijkstra, Maria Harris and Dawn Mirfin, to name a few, all of whom have achieved senior roles in their respective fields in what is still, to the most part, a very male dominated industry.
Looking at brokers, there seems to be more women now than when I came into the industry some 12 years ago, but I am surprised that there aren’t more of us.
To me it’s such a natural fit for women looking for a customer-focused career in finance, providing sound robust advice, coupled with empathy and understanding that, in my opinion, is a very natural female trait.
The potential for self-employment allows greater flexibility in terms of location and hours, but more importantly having the opportunity to grow your own business within a fast moving and dynamic industry is exciting, challenging and rewarding in equal measures.
I do, however, strongly believe that they key to success for anyone is to appreciate that no one group can do on its own.
Women’s place in the world of work improves not by excluding men, but by working together, all bringing our own unique qualities to create an industry that welcomes, celebrates and benefits from our differences.
There are more men than women at the highest level, but I think that is because historically financial services has been a male dominated profession and it takes time for that to change.
I have been self-employed for over 10 years, so I haven’t experienced gender inequality.
But I tend to believe that everyone is in charge of their own destiny; women have the power to affect gender diversity, by accepting nothing less.
Women today can decide what they want from their careers and life and obtain their goals.
To be taken seriously in any situation you need to take yourself seriously and respect what you bring to the table – but also learn how to laugh at yourself.
There is a saying that for a woman to be recognised as an equal to a man, she must be twice as good.
And I have experienced this personally.
But when a woman is as good will she excel beyond a man? Think the jury is out on that one.
However, women bring many good things to any profession, and I really do believe they do to financial services too.
From a personal point of view, as a working mum, my advice would be to keep balance in your life.
I think for too long we have been told we can have it all, but no one ever said how.
To underestimate what that means, is a big mistake, one I made myself.
You’ve got to have balance.
Be kind to yourself and work out what’s important and structure your life to that, then I don’t think you can go far wrong.