Samantha Taylor-Bowen – Carrick’s Director of Client Servicing, Training and Development – shares her advice to succeed as a woman in the financial services industry.
We’re almost near the end of August, the month dedicated to recognising women and their achievements. What better way to celebrate it than empowering young women in the financial services industry?
The most recent industry report of Women in Financial Services by Oliver Wyman, global management consulting firm, focuses on gender diversity issues in financial services. The statistics, gained from a comprehensive global survey of 32 countries, reveal an interesting picture. At current rates of growth, financial services globally will reach 30% female executive committee representation by 2048 only. While this reminds us that there is still room for progress, we shouldn’t lose sight of the positive. South Africa’s financial sector is one of the most advanced systems in the world and has produced some of our finest achievers, both locally and abroad, with women playing a central part as we slowly draw closer to equality in the boardroom.
Carrick breaking down gender barriers to the boardroom
In an industry largely dominated by men, Samantha Taylor-Bowen is Director of Client Servicing, Training and Development. Her role as Director is focused on developing, implementing and monitoring training programmes; mentoring new and existing Financial Advisers in skills development so that they can continue to excel in the industry; and developing strategic training across the Carrick Group.
Samantha shares her advice for women starting out in the financial services industry.
1.Think proactively and half your battle is won. Looking ahead to what your managers or clients will require from you in the immediate or even distant future will count in your favour. Although it’s important to solve the day-to-day challenges of your job, it’s also vital to anticipate long-term outcomes. By paying close attention and attentive listening to your clients’ situations and needs, you can develop long-term relationships with them.
2.Build a network of connections. While essential for success, financial knowledge and technical skill forms only one part of excelling as a financial adviser. An equally (and often more) important aspect is your network of connections. To leave your mark in the financial services industry, this is one of the unwritten rules of success. Build your network of professional relationships carefully and selectively, keeping in mind that it will take time.
Related to this point: help others where possible. As Sheryl Sandberg says in her book Lean In, “The more women help one another, the more we help ourselves. Acting like a coalition truly does produce results. Any coalition of support must also include men, many of whom care about gender inequality as much as women do.”
3.Prioritise your professional development. To leave your mark in the financial services industry, your professional development is the one factor that can help you differentiate yourself and should be a lifelong journey. The best part is that it’s something you can control. Be proactive and actively seek out professional development opportunities, for example attending industry seminars or conferences, completing training courses, joining professional organisations or obtaining industry qualifications. The value of an experienced business mentor who can guide you on your journey should also not be overlooked.
4.Refine your communication and relationship-management skills. Whether you’re presenting to a board or prospective client, knowing how to convey complex information in an easily understandable way is a key skill to have. As mentioned, being a successful financial adviser isn’t just about your impeccable technical knowledge, but also requires excellent people skills. For example, when interacting with a client, you will benefit from an understanding of different personality types, as well as listening and asking the right questions to truly understand your client’s needs.
5.Be tenacious, but remember: success and balance go hand in hand. Where there is a will, there is always a way. While it’s true that passion for your work and a willingness to work long hours when needed are all crucial to success in finance, keeping a work-life balance is key. How you will maintain this balance will be an individualised answer, but do what you must to recharge when needed and, in doing so, keep your focus clear.
Lastly, if you take away only one point from my advice, let it be this.
Dream big and visualise your success. Set goals, then exceed them.
It is possible to work your way to the most senior levels through tenacity, skill, knowledge, experience and self-development. Don’t let the gender gap stand in the way of achieving career success within the financial services industry. You’re destined to do remarkable things if you put this advice to effective use.