Women’s advancement could add $28 trillion to GDP in 7 years

Tahn Sharpe

By

May 15, 2018

The National Relationship Manager – ETFs of State Street Global Advisors has made an impassioned call for the financial services industry to address gender balance issues in a new way.

“Generally, we operate on two fundamental beliefs to achieve balanced gender representation: view both genders as identical on the inside and treat everyone the same,” explained Linda Stangherlin, speaking at the Association of Financial Advisers Inspire Roadshow, 2018.

“However, sizing up gender with a checklist doesn’t result in gender balance, nor does imposing quotas. And treating everyone the same may help eradicate bias but it doesn’t result in gender equality.

Stangherlin said gender inclusion and diversity were more than just buzzwords.

“We’ve moved on. What if the solution isn’t eliminating the difference between men and women, but instead learning how to recognise the value [in them] and leverage those differences. If we continue to ignore these facts, we may be missing countless opportunities.

Only 16 per cent of financial advisers in Australia are women, states SSGA’s new whitepaper, Women in Advice: Inspiring the Next Generation of Financial Advisers, which will be released tomorrow.

Women are twice as likely as men (18 per cent to 9 per cent) to feel that limited advancement opportunities were “the key barrier keeping them from advancing beyond their current role”, the paper states.

“We’re looking at the realities around gender diversity,” Stangherlin said. “What they mean for companies and economies, and what they mean for us when we’re serving our clients’ needs.”

She quoted research stating that companies with at least three women on their board outperform others in overall return on equity by 36 per cent.

“That’s significant if you’re a shareholder in that company, and significant for the clients we’re trying to create and protect wealth for,” she said.

If women and men participated equally in the economy it would add $28 trillion to the global gross domestic product by 2025, she added. “So the opportunity is great.”

Stangherlin quoted research stating that companies with at least three women on their board outperform others in overall return on equity by 36 per cent.

“That’s significant if you’re a shareholder in that company, and significant for the clients we’re trying to create and protect wealth for,” she said.

If women and men participated equally in the economy it would add $28 trillion to the global gross domestic product by 2025, she added. “So the opportunity is great.”

Co-founder of Integra Financial Services, Deborah Kent, and NSW Inspire Chair Jenny Pearse

The way forward

Addressing a crowd of mostly women, Stangherlin made the point that while the conversation should be about empowering women in finance, men also need to promote this cause.

“I know I’m speaking on closing the gender gap on advice,” she said, “but [men] play a really important part in this also.”

Stangherlin also identified several ways women could take ownership of their careers, including creating feedback loops, networking and thinking about accomplishments differently. She also said “raising your hand” was an important factor in making a difference, as was a willingness to “pay it forward” and mentor other women.

“Be willing to fail up,” she said. “Don’t wait until you’re perfect – no one is.

“If the next generation of financial advisers isn’t more diverse than the current generation, the opportunity created by a great wealth transfer can’t be fully realised,” Stangherlin explained. “For those willing to move beyond talk and increase the percentage of female advisers, the path towards gender equality could lead to one of the greatest opportunities of all time.”

National Inspire Chair Dianne Charman

Five years of Inspire

This roadshow marked the fifth birthday of the Inspire movement, which AFA calls a “community of practice” providing opportunities for “professional networking, coaching, mentoring, leadership and personal growth amongst women in financial services”.

Dianne Charman, the national chair of Inspire, says the group’s purpose is twofold.

“We want to see an increase in the number of female advisers and an increase of women in our community engaging in their financial wellbeing,” she explains.

For this to happen, Charman continues, there must be tangible measurement of how women are progressing on the journey towards equity.

“If we don’t measure what’s happening, we will not get an improvement,” she states.

To this end, Inspire is in partnership with Financy, an online women’s magazine whose website states that it represents “a movement towards women living their best, most fulfilling lives through achieving their money goals”.

The second purpose of Inspire involves its partnership with the Women’s Economic Security Council, which advises the government on policy and program areas including pay equality, financial capability, superannuation, and workforce participation issues like childcare and paid parental leave.

“That council reports directly to the Office for Women,” she explains, referring to the broader government body that provides direct strategic policy advice and support to the prime minister and minister for women.

“What we’re trying to do at Inspire is make sure we take our expertise and share it,” Charman explains.


TOPICS:   AFA Inspire LinkedIn group,  dianne charman,  Linda Stangherlin,  The Association of Financial Advisers (AFA)

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