It may still be an industry largely dominated by men, but gender barriers are certainly being broken down in financial boardrooms around the country.
The industry is undoubtedly making progress on gender diversity in the workforce, but is it enough? According to the Oliver Wyman 2020 Women in Financial Services report, “mindsets are shifting and, as a result of hard work and commitment, progress is beginning to be reflected in the numbers.”
The progress is slow – with 20% representation of women on executive committees and 23% on boards, there is a long way to go. However, South Africa has done us proud, ranking eighth in 2019 on the list of 37 countries, with 30% of women on executive committees.
“I started out in the industry over 13 years ago and there were hardly any women in the financial services space,” says Samantha Bowen, Executive Director: Carrick Wealth. “When I became a Director at Carrick in 2017, I knew of only three other women in similar roles across South Africa. Now at Carrick we employ over 50 women across our offices in operations and wealth management roles, which I think is incredible.
“I believe it is our duty as senior female executives in the industry to help other women, who are new to the industry to be seen, be heard and be valued,” she says.
Here are Samantha’s tips for women looking to grow their career in the financial services industry:
1. Be proactive
Although it’s important to solve the day-to-day challenges of your job, it’s also vital to anticipate long-term outcomes. Pay close attention and listen to your clients’ situations and needs. Looking ahead to what your managers or clients will require from you in the immediate future will help cultivate long-term relationships.
3. Support each other
Support your clients, your colleagues, your team, your manager, your industry. We can all do and achieve so much more when we help and support each other.
4. Invest in yourself
Your professional development is one factor that can help you differentiate yourself and should be a lifelong journey. Actively seek out professional development opportunities, attend industry seminars or conferences, upskill with training, join professional
organisations or aim to obtain industry qualifications. The value of an experienced business mentor who can guide you on your journey should also not be overlooked.
5. Work on your communication skills
Whether you’re presenting to a board or a prospective client, knowing how to convey complex information in an easily understandable way is a key skill. Relationship management skills are also crucial. When interacting with a client you will benefit from an understanding of different personality types, for example, while listening and knowing what to ask and when to ask it, will help you truly understand your client’s needs.
6. Success and balance go hand in hand
Where there’s 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. Make time to recharge because that is how you will keep your mind clear and focused.
7. Visualise your success
Dream big and set goals. It’s more than likely that with tenacity, skill, knowledge, experience and self-development, you will exceed those goals. You’re destined to do remarkable things.
2. It’s all about connections
While essential for success, financial knowledge and technical skill forms only one part of excelling as a financial advisor. 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.