I always try to check my Twitter feed over breakfast. Recently, a tweet from IFA Philippa Gee caught my eye. She had taken her time to attend an investment conference and found she was the only woman there. Comments followed that this occurrence is far too common.
According to Unbiased, just 13 per cent of the advisers listed with it are females.
We are 100 years on from the important milestone of women being allowed to vote. However, equality for women in financial services is still a work in progress.
I had to laugh speaking to a serious senior male recently, when I was told: “Our pay equality is very good; it’s only because all the senior jobs are taken by men that the numbers are knocked out.”
I have not heard of any company paying women more or men less to reduce the gender pay gap. If this is happening behind closed doors, I am sure Money Marketing would like to know, as it is positive and newsworthy.
You do not need me to tell you about the benefits of equality. Just look at the statistics. According to research by McKinsey, gender-diverse companies are 15 per cent more likely to outperform.
The reason for this is that scientists have discovered more than 100 generic differences in the brains of males and females. Women are great multi-taskers, while men excel in highly task-focused projects needing tunnel vision.
Females tend to use more words when discussing something, while males have fewer verbal centres and less connectivity between their word centres and memories or feelings.
How does this translate on the client side of things? Females take longer to commit; they have more questions and need to feel as if they understand things they are about to do.
This is evidenced by the considerably higher female opt-out rates in auto-enrolment, an area that can be difficult to understand and find someone able to answer probing questions.
The quid pro quo is that when a woman feels as if they understand something and think it is good, they are seven times more likely to refer it to their friends and family.
As for how we market financial products and services to women, the “shrink it and pink it” approach simply does not work.
Providers must look at removing all gendered language from customer communications. There are hundreds of words that need to be changed to represent an inclusive journey through a pension, investment or protection plan.
But back to the lack of females at investment conferences. A conference talking about alpha investment gains in emerging markets with out of date statistics for three hours is not attractive to us.
Listening to one thing, often delivered using technical language and with no interaction and networking aside from at short breaks does not sit comfortably with our neurochemicals.
It’s time to change things as we know them.
Kim North is managing director at Technology & Technical