Women take centre stage in financial services

Christèle Hiss Holliger, Head of Human Resources, Pictet Wealth Management

Women take centre stage in financial services

The growing wealth of women is reshaping financial services around the globe as radically as it is changing the face of entrepreneurship.

By next year, 32% of world wealth – around $72 trillion – is forecast to be held in female hands, according to forecasts by Boston Consulting Group. Women are also expected to inherit 70% of assets passed down over the next two generations. This transformation represents an exciting opportunity for wealth managers to expand their business – provided they adapt successfully.

Change is now on its way and will affect the whole industry, including Pictet. In private banking, social shifts in the client base are exerting direct pressure. Even in families where men are the primary wealth creators, wives and daughters are playing an increasingly prominent role in decision-making.

Particularly among younger genera­tions, people are used to dealing with both sexes on an equal basis in all spheres of their lives. They may even find it uncomfortable or outdated to be faced with an exclusively male client team when discussing family wealth. This, among other facets of diver­sity, could be a decisive factor when they are choosing who to develop a long-term working relationship with.

The starting point is to build women’s self-belief in their ability to win promotion and speak up for themselves. In early 2018, Pictet Wealth Management (PWM) launched a women’s leader­ship programme, which began with a two-day residential workshop for 35 senior women, a mix of relationship managers, investment experts and wealth planners. During this pilot event, participants discussed their aspirations and develop­ment needs – and identified such issues as the shortage of female role models and the challenge of speaking up in a predomi­nantly male environment.

In parallel, Pictet also increased the number of lunch and learn sessions, work­shops and talks on the topics of diversity and inclusion. The objective is to promote awareness in key areas such as how anyone’s decisions may be influenced by unconscious biases, but also to provide a moment for staff to share and reflect on the current situ­ation at Pictet and how to improve it.

“Pictet’s approach is about widening the pool of talent”

Pictet is also overhauling the way it attracts new employees. External recruit­ment partners have been briefed to widen the diversity of candidates in terms of sex, but also ethnicity, education and social background. The goal is to include at least one strong female candidate on every short­list and there should be very few cases where this is not possible.

Pictet’s approach is about widening the pool of talent – and developing a genu­inely inclusive culture for women and staff from diverse origins. At the same time, quotas in either recruitment or promotion would be unhelpful. Talented people could lose out unfairly. Clients also need to remain confident that the people looking after their interests are there on merit alone.

Enthusiasm for the changes Pictet is making is palpable – as measured by a 2019 employee survey, in which 90% of its 4,300 employees said they would recommend it as a good place to work. Some of the greatest champions are staff, both male and female, who have daughters and want to ensure Pictet is an employer their children would work for. It is a long journey, but the overall goal for a 50-50 male-female split in recruitment and, in the longer term, senior management roles, is worth fighting for.

Read full article here

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