Dawn Thomas (left) and Marisa Broome
The future of the advice industry is well on its way to skewing female and younger, with two major industry associations reporting material increases in the amount of women becoming members.
Half of the Financial Planning Association’s 1,000 student members are women, highlighting the diversity of new adviser talent coming through the ranks. The FPA currently has a roughly 70 per cent male membership base.
At the same time, those members are signing up at an earlier point in their careers.
“When I became a director seven years ago our average membership age was 58 and it’s now 45, so we’re already seeing age diversification happening,” FPA chair Marisa Broome tells Professional Planner. “That’s encouraging.”
“At the moment just under 30 per cent of our membership base are women, but for our student members more than 50 per cent are women so we’re seeing that gender change happening on the way through.”
For the Association of Financial Advisers, women make up only 23 per cent of the existing membership base, but this number increases to 32 per cent for new members.
Industry not enticing women
There are still barriers to promoting the industry successfully to women, as many aren’t convinced it is a viable career path.
Dawn Thomas, AFA Inspire national chair, says women are often greatly outnumbered when studying at university.
“When I did a guest lecturing session for financial planning courses, they only had about two or three women in a class of 25,” Thomas says.
Thomas attempted to get in touch with one female student to enquire about her interest in joining a young advisor group to start building her network. However, she was rebuffed as the student wanted to change her focus to a different career.
“I was a bit sad with that because I don’t know whether it’s a lack of exposure at that level or whether those students actually understand what financial planning can do for them long term,” Thomas says.
“Students who might be doing accounting and financial planning, [often] switch to accounting because it’s a known field.”