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Women in Finance Charter

A growing, family-run, financial advice firm has been awarded a place on the Treasury-backed Women in Finance Charter.

Unividual become one of the 42 new signatories

The Treasury has announced 42 new signatories, in which Bath and London based Unividual has signed up to support a campaign to better represent women employees and senior level management in financial organisations. Gender balance in financial services has been readily written about over the last few years and in 2015 the Government asked Jayne-Anne Gadhia, former CEO of Virgin Money, to lead a review into the representation of women in senior managerial roles in financial services. The Review, “Empowering Productivity: Harnessing the talents of women in financial services” found that women made up only 14% of Executive Committees in the Financial Services sector. In response to the recommendations in that review, HM Treasury launched the Women in Finance Charter.

The recently announced new signatories push up the total number of financial firms and organisations who have signed up to over 370.  From global banks to credit unions, some of the largest insurance companies and financial technology start-ups, this year Unividual became one of those firms. The Women in Finance Charter reflects the government’s aspiration to see gender balance across financial services firms. Those signing up to the Charter commit to working together to build a balanced and fair industry and pledge to be the best businesses in the sector.

In signing up to the Charter, Lewis Baxter, London Financial Planner and Director of Unividual said: “We set ourselves the target of achieving 40 per cent female representation within management in the next three years. We are proud to have grown total female representation in our business from 16.6% to 38.8% in 4 years. Senior management female representation stands at 33.3% and 66.7% of middle management are women but we still are yet to have our first female financial adviser. This is something we have been focusing on since the launch of our in-house financial planning school, Unicademy. It can take 3 years for an employee to train up and we are confident we will have our first female financial adviser by the end of 2021.”

Marketing Director of Unividual, Cherie-Anne Baxter, 36, said: “One of the hardest obstacles our industry has is making financial advice an attractive career option to women because of the perception that a financial adviser is a role traditionally taken up by men, just like on the opposite side nursing is traditionally taken up by women.

“When Lewis and I established Unicademy it was with the objective to combat the threat the industry has of dwindling numbers of financial advisers. When we started to grow the business, we quickly found out that we needed to widen the pool of applicants. We started speaking to people about why they don’t apply for finance roles and to those already working in the industry. This feedback meant we could overhaul our recruitment process to ensure our language and imagery was inclusive to a wide cross section of society. We adapted job descriptions, adverts, the website and much more. The recruitment process was then adjusted to ensure people could shine by introducing Experience Days inside our offices.  One of our Chartered Financial Planners, Simon Jones, also made a film “Financial Services At Work” showcasing why our people love working in financial services which featured a wide cross section of staff working for us. Being awarded a place on the Women in Finance Charter is not only a reward to our hard work but demonstrates our commitment to gender balance. It gives women the reassurance that at Unividual they can have a prosperous, fair career. They can push themselves and still be in a competitive environment but for reasons that aren’t gender based.”

Meet Natasha, financial adviser in training

Natasha Emms, 24, enrolled on to Unividual’s Unicademy in 2018 and proudly speaks of her part to play at Unividual: “I studied Finance at Loughborough and after doing a placement year at Aldermore Bank knew that I wanted to become a financial planner. One of the reasons I joined Unividual was for their culture of respect, the value that everyone has a part to play and has something to contribute. This extends to clients, who we don’t stereotype or put in boxes. Everyone is seen as a unique person. The overall goal for myself is to become a financial adviser and achieving this in such a male dominated industry can be nerve wracking but less so when you have the learning and support from a company like Unividual.   My training program will take 3 years from start to finish, I already hold my Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning and by the end of the program I will be a Chartered Financial Planner and one of the most highly qualified financial advisers in the country. Hopefully becoming Unividual’s first female financial adviser will inspire other women in our business to consider this as a career option.”

Stephen Jones, Chief Executive of UK Finance said: “UK Finance is pleased to see that the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter has gone from strength to strength. The Charter and more recent initiatives such as the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship and the resulting Investing in Women Code are integral to building a more equal and fair society fit for the 2020s.”

Find out more about Unividual’s strategy for improving gender balance in financial services or download the full list of the 2020 Women in Finance Charter signatories

Author: Cherie-Anne Baxter

Editor: Cherie-Anne Baxter

Date: 17/09/2020

Figures are correct as of the above date

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