On 8th March, International Women’s Day was celebrated globally with a focus on #BalanceforBetter. I was recently promoted to Financial Planner at United Advisers Marine and, as it currently stands, I’m the sole female Planner. This got me thinking about inequality in our industry.
The World Economic Forum produced a report on the gender gap in work. What’s most surprising in the study is that the leading case for a gap in roles is due to an unconscious bias amongst hiring managers.
There are a number of parallels across the finance and superyacht industries including;
- significantly more men in senior positions compared to females.
- industry stereotypes that women both in yachting and finance have to fight against to gain the roles they’re worthy of.
- both industries have largely been incorrectly perceived as male pursuits.
All you independent ladies
The irony within finance is that women, on average, are better organised and more likely to achieve financial goals once they’re set. Yet, women are less likely to invest than men and, when they do invest, are less confident about their decisions.
Brittain Prigge, President at Balentine, an Atlanta-based wealth management firm, talks about the challenges around advice in the Investment Times…
“Women have a unique gift that makes us better equipped to nurture people through the wealth development and management process…Ultimately, the skill so often required, and lacking, is empathy”
This indicates that female wealth management clients would benefit from dealing with someone who listens to them and understands the challenges they face.
There’s a lot of information available on finance and investment. But, resources have for the most part, been written by men for men. This is part of the problem; we don’t all think the same way or have the same goals. When we write information from a sole viewpoint it automatically excludes a certain audience.
The combination of impassive advisers and male oriented financial resources may in part explain why women have traditionally steered away from investing.
Changing the conversation
I believe that the freedom to confidently make decisions and to have those decisions respected is the crux of this discussion. These privileges should be equally available and intentionally present in both financial and superyacht arenas. We need to change the conversation around what it means to be financially independent.
No one is obligated to invest, but the yachting industry is typically poor at providing crew with personal pensions. An effective investment strategy can help build a decent independent emergency fund, long-term savings fund and a personal retirement fund.
One key difference by virtue of biology is that a woman carries a baby for nine months. While Mother Nature has given us a wonderful gift, it may present significant challenges when working on board a superyacht. Were this to be part of your future plan, you would want to have the financial freedom to leave the industry and set up onshore, and to be able to include everything entailed with that in your financial planning.
You might also want to start your own business, or strive for that big promotion, or maybe you’ve set your sights on retiring early. Or all of the above!
Whatever your goals, you should be able to have a conversation with someone who makes you feel comfortable and understands your situation. When you get the right advice from someone that understands you, women nearly always nail their financial goals.
Thinking about your future
If you don’t have clear goals it can be daunting to think about committing to a financial plan. The first step is to think about yourself and what you’d like in your future. A financial plan is simply the means to ensure you get there.
Goal setting questions to ask yourself
- If you won the lottery, what would you do differently?
- If you asked your best friend, what would they imagine you doing in ten years?
- If you set yourself an audacious career goal, what would it be?
- What has been sat on your bucket list, but you’ve never done?
I believe that, when we take more time to understand the crew we meet, we are able to provide better advice and breakdown some of the barriers that prevent females from investing. This changes the way financial professionals need to operate.
It isn’t about recommending a financial product or investment structure, it’s about building a personal relationship and developing a personal financial plan that, regardless of gender, fits you.