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Kim North: Let’s move away from ‘jobs for the boys’

Kim NorthLast week, the excellent Money Marketing Interactive Harrogate event took place, where I was fortunate enough to be part of the panel on diversity in advice.

Last week also saw the 10th anniversary of the Lehman Brothers’ collapse. “If it had been Lehman Sisters rather than Lehman Brothers, the world might look a lot different today,” repeated International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde.

She can say this with confidence, as IMF research shows a higher proportion of women on the boards of banks and financial supervision agencies is associated with greater stability.

UK financial services companies would benefit from more stability if there was more gender neutrality and more senior females. Today, approximately 13 per cent of financial advisers, 10 per cent of lead fund managers and 19 per cent of pension scheme trustees are female.

Across the UK economy, construction and financial and insurance services have the worst gender pay gaps. One can appreciate that men are generally physically stronger than women and more suited to digging ditches, but what about advising on or managing money?

I would say women are actually better than men at this because of the female brain. Why? Well, scientists have discovered approximately 100 gender differences between the male and female brain.

Understanding differences from a neurological perspective results in greater appreciation of the different genders. What is more, management consultants McKinsey has found that gender-diverse companies are 15 per cent more likely to outperform.

From an advice perspective, women’s heightened emotions and empathy results in them taking a longer time to commit to a financial decision.

Profile: Magenta Financial Planning boss on encouraging more women to become advisers

A woman will often have a lower risk outlook and show more interest in ethical investments than a man, who, due to his testosterone, will take more risks and be more keen to move on to his next task.

Female clients need more time to understand a purchase fully but it is worth taking the time, as women are seven times more likely to refer a professional service than males.

As for managing money, research from Morningstar shows an investor who picks a fund based solely on the manager’s gender could see better results with all-female teams in both the equity and fixed income spaces.

But despite this, I am seeing too many female city-based friends of mine losing their jobs due to Brexit leading companies to relocate operations. I fear this shedding of staff (which has been estimated to be as high as 800,000) will result in “jobs for the boys” and business owners recruiting based on a “people like us” mentality.

We have a long way to go to reach gender neutrality in financial services, but a good next step would be to ensure the industry communicates with women in a way that resonates with their different brain types. As it stands, the majority of product and service providers are failing in this.

Kim North is managing director at Technology & Technical


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There are 6 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Absolutely Kim we need to move from tick box to considering how we interact with all types of clients one size does’nt fit all

  2. Interesting that you quote Christine Lagarde, Kim. In December 2016 the IMF head was found guilty of criminal charges over a massive government payout. However, the
    former French finance minister, who faced potentially one year in jail, did not actually suffer any punishment. (Jobs for the boys / passes for the girls?) It would seem therefore that the propensity for wrongdoing isn’t entirely dictated by the contents of one’s pants. Maybe we can get away from gender stereotyping completely, i.e. including the current fashion for the demonisation of men as supposedly constituting an evil patriarchy? (I currently employ an all-female staff by the way.)

  3. If a man said that women had “heightened emotions” his balls would be in a mincer by teatime.

  4. As did I, Neil.

    I do find this form of generalisation tiresome and see no need to stereotype gender in this way. Will excessive oestrogen cause me to replace my tennis rackets at a faster rate? Sorry, I`ll get back to digging my ditch ……….

  5. “But despite this, I am seeing too many female city-based friends of mine losing their jobs due to Brexit leading companies to relocate operations. I fear this shedding of staff (which has been estimated to be as high as 800,000) will result in “jobs for the boys” and business owners recruiting based on a “people like us” mentality.”

    I understand the main piece, but am really struggling to reconcile the movement of jobs due to Brexit with using it as an opportunity to re-employ men and not women – how have you concluded that would happen?

  6. […] Two reports over the summer held both good and bad news for women in finance. In July, it was revealed the numbers of women holding senior boardroom jobs had fallen. In August, however, we found increasing numbers of women have been qualifying as financial advisers. Overall, however, the figures are startlingly low: approximately 13% of financial advisers, 10 %of lead fund managers are women, according to a recent panel on diversity in financial advice. […]

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