But this begs the question of why are there still so few women working in financial services?
In 2018, International Adviser put together the IA 100, a list of the most influential people in the industry, globally, to showcase those who have made a big, and often lasting, impact.
But it was tough to find women.
This was not a surprise for Samantha Bowen, director – wealth management and advisory at South Africa-headquartered advice firm Carrick Wealth.
Originally from the UK, Bowen has been a financial adviser in Africa since 2008. She worked in South Africa, Zambia and Botswana, before settling in Cape Town when she joined Carrick Wealth in 2014.
“When I was promoted to the board of directors, one of our researchers had a look and could only find two other women sitting on the boards of companies that were similar to us,” she told International Adviser.
Bowen says there are more women working in the local market but very few in the offshore space.
Some of the difficulties Bowen has faced, she acknowledges, are quite southern Africa-specific, especially how common it has been for women to give up work after they marry and/or have children.
“When I started here 10 years ago, I had no female executive clients. Not one. It’s not that I saw any and didn’t take them on as a client – I just didn’t see them.
“It’s only since I came back to South Africa, almost five years ago, that a huge amount of people I see now are high net worth women.”
In a further development; Bowen says that, often, their wealth is kept separate from their husband’s, which shows how the world is changing.
Seeing and meeting demand
These challenges have set Bowen on a path to establish herself as the go-to wealth manager for women, specifically high net worths and divorced women. “I just want to be able to give the right help to women similar to myself.”
She explained that, with women staying at home, recent divorcees often get handed lump sum payments from their ex-husbands but they have little or no experience of how to manage it.
“They haven’t been used to it, that’s not been their forte or responsibility. And now they’ve got this money and they don’t know what to do with it.”
Bowen wants to make financial advice part of the divorce process, and is working “to affiliate myself with divorce lawyers”.
Tougher road to trek
“Some women doubt their own abilities because they lack confidence,” Bowen said. “When I see female clients, they often don’t know what’s available to them; even from an offshore bank account to an offshore trust.”
Bowen advocates looking at overseas opportunities.
While investing in the local market is important, “rand depreciation and the political situation in South Africa means diversification is equally important”, she said.
Trying to get more women into the industry has been challenging, and Bowen admits that some new hires just simply haven’t worked out, as it has not been the right industry for them.
“There’s so much development that needs to happen in South Africa, and absolutely for people of colour and especially women. I want to get more women into the industry, into senior positions and to be better educated to protect their financial futures,” Bowen said.
In the interests of promoting gender and ethnic diversity, we would be very interested to hear from anyone who knows an individual they feel deserves recognition for their work in the financial advisory and wealth management sectors, globally, for our next edition of IA 100.
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