Principal at YBR Earlwood, Effie Nicol is also the president of YBR’s Women in Finance Group and talks to MPA about how they are supporting women brokers in the industry.
MPA: What is YBR's Women in Finance Group all about and how does it support female brokers?
Effie Nicol: Yellow Brick Road launched Women in Finance last year because we wanted to provide a strong support system and networking opportunities to women running a small business in the finance industry.
We celebrated our one year anniversary on International Women’s day on March 8. In its first year, the group focused on promoting the financial services industry among women, encouraging them to consider financial services as a career. The group’s regular events programme enables like-minded women to come together and share their inspirational stories and ideas, helping to future-proof their success in what is a competitive industry.
MPA: Why is it important to bring more women into the industry as brokers?
Generally speaking, a lot of women feel more comfortable talking to other women about their finances, because women can empathise towards them and understand them. Some men also feel more comfortable talking to a woman for the same reasons.
Yet, from what I’ve observed, women are hesitant to join the financial sector for a number of reasons but largely because it is so male-dominated. At Yellow Brick Road 31% of the brokers are women, this is double the industry stand which sits at 16%.
We’re striving to give women more confidence about the sector, to improve the male to female ratio and provide customers with the right broker for them.
MPA: Recent MFAA statistics showed the number of women brokers is increasing - what are the reasons for this in your opinion?
A combination of factors, with one of the most prominent being that women are realising that life as a broker means you can work your own hours. It supports the work life balance that many women, particularly women with families, are looking for.
What was the top highlight for the Group in the past year?
The highlight was hosting White Ribbon Day in November, which raises money to prevent men’s violence against women. The event brought together around 80 women working in various facets of the finance sector to hear a panel of speakers discuss gender diversity in the finance industry, domestic and family abuse, and the role workplaces play in supporting and driving change.
The panel included a number of senior women in finance who drew upon their personal experiences, discussing activities and initiatives that have improved gender diversity and inclusion.
More women are choosing the broking path
Recent figures from the MFAA show the growth rate for female brokers was 8.7% compared to a 5.7% growth rate for male brokers, calculated on a like-for-like basis. This indicates more women are joining the industry or are choosing to stay in the industry at stronger rates than men.
The report stated: "Looking at the gender split another way, the proportion of women who were recruited during the six months was 32% of new hires, which was materially higher than their proportion of the total population of brokers at the end of the period, of 28%. This points firmly to a conclusion observed in the March edition of the IIS that more women are entering the industry, and/or conversely fewer women are leaving the sector.'
Source: MFAA Industry Intelligence Service report