As the average age of financial advisors creeps upward, the industry is looking for the next generation of advisors to replace them.
However, as the general population becomes more diverse, firms are also looking for ways to attract people with different values and experiences. The benefits of a diverse work force to firms are more immediate than securing replacements for retiring advisors. A 2015 report by PwC of CEOs at global financial services firms found three-quarters of respondents believe diversity at their firms has led to more innovation, and better customer satisfaction and business performance.
A survey released in May by PwC suggests ways to attract young women to the industry as part of that drive for increased diversity. “The increased presence of women can improve the ability to build relationships and engender trust, giving businesses an edge in key growth sectors, such as wealth management,” according to the survey.
PwC surveyed more than 8,000 women born between 1980 and 1995, of which about 600 were already working in financial services.
Of those 600, 60% say career progression is the most important attribute of an employer. Over a third said lack of opportunities for advancement was the reason they left a previous job. However, almost twice as many said they felt they could attain a senior position at their current job. Half said employers were biased toward men in promoting employees.
Women want flexibility at work, and almost half say programs to help with work-life balance exist at their firm, but 53% say taking advantage of those programs could jeopardize their career. Within asset management, that rises to 63%.
Elaine Miller, managing director of PwC’s financial services practice, said that this disconnect between firms offering work-life balance assistance and employees using them isn’t limited to women, and in fact, “can be an even bigger hurdle with men.”
She suggested three ways firms can encourage workers to use the programs they offer. One is to make sure they “set the right tone at the top.” In an email to ThinkAdvisor, she said, “Leaders in the organization should take advantage of work-life balance programs themselves, and encourage their teams to make use of them as well. Managers should proactively discuss work-life options with their employees, and work with them to define a plan that works for them while still enabling them to perform their job responsibilities.”
Another way to improve utilization of work-life balance programs is to “manage by outcomes,” Miller wrote. “Employees should be rewarded for the impact they have on their organization’s business objectives in terms of outcomes and delivery, rather than time spent in the office.”
Finally, the firm’s policies and processes should support those work-life programs, according to Miller. For example, workers who use the work-life program and meet performance objectives should be considered for a promotion, even if they haven’t been in their current position for the prescribed length of time. “Too often, talent policies inadvertently punish employees who opt to use work-life balance programs with stringent requirements that are often not indicative of employee ability,” Miller wrote.
Interestingly, more than two-thirds of women say they’d like to work outside their home country, and 55% say it’s necessary to further their careers.
Miller said that international experience “accelerates the learning process” by putting employees in situations where they encounter more ambiguity than they would in their domestic experience.
Aside from language skills, employees who work abroad learn important interpersonal skills, Miller said, like cultural dexterity. “While abroad, employees build their understanding of other cultures, ability to read verbal and nonverbal cues, ability to maintain an open mind and emotional intelligence,” she wrote. “These interpersonal skills increase awareness and enable employees to be more effective when engaging with people from other backgrounds and cultures when they return to their home country, ultimately increasing their effectiveness and ability to collaborate with others in order to achieve project or business goals.”