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Five minutes with…City diversity champion Bev Shah

City Hive founder Bev Shah has become a highly influential voice for diversity in the asset management sector.

Ahead of her appearance at the forthcoming Money Marketing Interactive conference, she talks rebuilding trust in the investment sector and ditching the “bowler hat” image.

What is the most encouraging advice market trend you are seeing at the moment?

Growth in gender and financial technology. Firms are waking up to the opportunity and ticking time bomb that is the large gender pension gap. They are also opening up to the next generation of investor via interesting financial apps. What is being created is not revolutionary but evolutionary.

What are the keys to winning over more consumers to start seeking advice?

Trust and value. The politics of hate surrounding bankers since the 2008 crash has tainted how people perceive anyone involved in the investment industry. We need to show that we can be trusted with their hard earned wealth and that what we do is of value.

We also need to distinguish ourselves from the other City professions. Of course the lines are blurred but there are distinct differences in all the different financial service sectors.

What do we need to do to improve financial literacy in the UK?

Financial education needs to start in primary schools and be mandatory on the curriculum. It should not be classed as the dome for the Elite.

We also need to rethink how we talk about the industry. The language we use in our communications with the wider public needs to be demystified and debunked. Not dumbed down but accessible.

Then they can start to trust us again.

How important do you think coaching and life planning are to a modern advice business?

This is extremely important. With retirement and career paths no longer taking a linear cradle to grave path, with higher life expectancies and the first generation of families sandwiched by both elderly and younger dependents, we should be taking a more holistic approach with our money management and planning. Look at your ideal end goal and work backwards to see how this can be achieved.

What should we be doing to get more new advisers into the profession?

This is a longer term structural problem. The main issue is to position the profession as a viable career option to young people. Sadly anything financial rarely appears in positive terms through popular culture and we are now competing for talent with other science, technology, engineering and maths careers that are perceived to be more exciting.

We need to move away from the bowler hat wearing image of a stockbroker. As an industry we need to show that we are trustworthy and provide a vital service to everyone – not just those within an elite group.

Shah will be chairing a panel on culture in financial services and the path forward after Brexit at MMI London. Register for your free place here.

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