News analysis: Diversity – A work in progress

Pam Brown, the managing partner of Pam Brown Mortgages, recalls attending an event in Santander for the UK’s top mortgage brokers 20 years ago, where the organizer shook hands with his husband and said, “Thank you for your business.

Since then, the mortgage industry has made great strides toward diversity, according to Brown, although at an industry Christmas event last year she was the only female broker in attendance.

Brown’s two children also work in financial services. Her son recently confessed to her at a networking event that he always felt embarrassed as the only black man in attendance. There is still a lot of work to do.

“It got better,” Brown says. “But there is still a long way to go before we can say that we are a truly diverse industry.

“The image of a middle-aged white man as a financial advisor is slowly fading. I’m blonde and I’m wearing jeans to work today, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a good financial advisor,” she says.

“It just means I feel good about myself and know I’m good at my job.”

While it is true that over the past 20 years women have increasingly entered the mortgage industry and stayed there, moving into leadership positions, they have continued to face challenges and barriers to development. based on sex.

A 2021 survey by broker Alexander Hall, which collected the opinions of 1,178 people working in the UK mortgage industry, suggests that more than half of women, 54%, believe they are not adequately represented at all levels of the industry. Meanwhile, 52% of ethnic minority respondents shared the same sentiment.

I’m blonde and I’m wearing jeans to work today, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a good financial advisor.

The traditional problems remain. Societal norms still exert overwhelming pressure on women to work; and, by nature, the roles and work structures of the mortgage industry often create barriers to the recruitment and retention of women in the industry.

“Many jobs in the mortgage industry are commission-based roles that don’t always offer the financial security found in other industries,” says Jeni Browne, Sales Director of Mortgages for Business.

“In a society that still expects women to bear the lion’s share of childcare responsibilities and does not provide men with adequate paternity leave, this can be a significant stumbling block. .”

The mortgage profession is still a male-dominated space, although Bower managing director Andrea Rozario says more and more women are entering the profession.

And those who do tend to perform better, despite the challenges they and a minority of their male colleagues face.

“In my experience, women who choose financial services as a career are often exceptional, with an eye for detail and unparalleled passion.

“That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of great men in this field, but it’s always harder for women to move forward when faced with challenges of their own.”

Connect general manager Liz Syms, who was mistaken for a waitress at a mortgage industry event in the 1990s, was her branch’s first female advisor in its early days.

According to Syms, the market has come a long way, thanks in part to awards and events that reward female talent and high-level female advisors.

Syms says she was only able to find flexibility in her job after starting her own business.

“The ability to drop off and pick up my kids from school, attend their plays, do their bedtime routine, and then settle in for a few more hours to work is the kind of flexibility that few roles can boast,” she says.

Thora Kehoe, product manager at mortgage fintech Smartr365, says few will be shocked to learn that the gender pay gap in financial services persists today, though she says the fact that these conversations take place shows that progress has been made.

Ultimately, if a company doesn’t represent the diversity of the customers it serves, it won’t provide them with the best products.

According to Kehoe, companies need to understand the tremendous benefits of gender diversity.

Despite clear economic benefits and the proven positive impact of employing decision makers of different genders and backgrounds, mortgage companies continue to fall short.

“Ultimately, if a company doesn’t represent the diversity of the customers it serves, it won’t provide them with the best products,” she says.

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