Profile: Rebecca Robertson – woman on a mission
Rebecca Robertson wants to encourage more women to get to grips with their finances and more women to become financial planners
Rebecca Robertson is a woman on a mission. The founder of Evolution for Women has set herself a goal to increase the number of female financial advisers, whilst developing the financial advice options available to women.
Rebecca, who founded the business in 2011, is passionate about encouraging more females to pursue a career in financial advice, but believes much needs to change in the industry to have a real impact on numbers.
“I see myself as having a dual role; I am a director of a firm offering holistic financial planning, but I also want to impart my knowledge and help women looking to forge a career in this sector,” Rebecca explains. “Financial advice remains a very heavily male-orientated industry, but it makes a fantastic career choice for women and clients would benefit from a more balanced number of advisers.
“However, there needs to be greater encouragement in the workplace to learn and develop and we need to move away from the sales environment which many people have come to associate with financial advice. The more women who become managers in these types of environments, the more women will be employed,” she adds.
Prior to founding Evolution for Women, Rebecca held a number of roles across banks and brokerages, both as an adviser and in management. She says her experience helped her carve out the approach she wanted for her own company.
“Throughout my career, I was trained by men in a particular style and I continued that style of training myself with new recruits. As such, it’s become difficult to develop beyond that and in my view, the industry has become very institutionalised. When I founded Evolution for Women, I wanted to create a totally different environment both for my colleagues and my clients,” she says.
Evolution for Women currently has seven female advisers, and Rebecca hopes to increase that number to somewhere between 10 and 15 by the end of 2017. She is in the process of launching an online adviser excellence programme for those joining the team, which will provide the training and development they need to progress in their career.
She says: “I am passionate about helping women achieve their goals and I want those who join Evolution for Women to have access to as much training and support as possible. Advisers who join the firm are self-employed which is in itself often a big leap of faith; they make the decision that they want to go it alone, but setting up your own business is a hugely daunting prospect so by joining us they are given a solid foundation to build upon.”
Rebecca also believes that if more women joined the industry, it would help improve its reputation and encourage more female clients to seek advice.
“The introduction of the Retail Distribution Review has led many advisers to lean towards higher-end clients, alienating a lot consumers in need of advice, especially women. I’ve always taken the approach that we should be offering holistic advice, not advice based upon high-level investments. We should not be standardising the level of income someone requires in order to qualify for advice. Unfortunately, I think taking this approach alienates many female clients.”
Rebecca says that while specialising in women has become somewhat of a ‘fad’ in the industry now, it was unheard of when she made the decision to found Evolution for Women five years ago.
“The industry thought I was crazy to focus on women and said I was limiting half my market. My view was that they didn’t understand how marketing worked; by carving out a specialism, I was helping to attract the type of client I wanted to work with,” she says.
Rebecca says female clients differ in their approach to money management; they tend to ask far more questions than male clients and as such, Rebecca says information and facts often have to be presented differently.
“We generally deal with clients in their 30s and 40s, who are savvy and earning a relatively good wage. What they’ve realised is that they could do with a little help. There’s a lot of information available on the Internet, but we run the risk of an information overload and generally speaking, women don’t like the ‘sales pitch’ approach that many websites take.
“That’s why we take a holistic approach; I want my clients to understand their finances completely and I do this by walking them through everything at their own pace. It’s important that they feel looked after and trust the advice they’re receiving,” she adds.
Evolution for Women counts around 40% of its client base as solo females, while the remaining 60% is couples, although around three quarters of those come as a result of the female making the first approach.
Rebecca says that recently she has seen growing interest in long-term planning, especially among women.
“Awareness of the need for long-term planning is growing and that’s a fairly new thing for women,” she says. “However, the knowing exactly what to do and then making those decisions still requires a bit of a help and that’s what we are here to offer.
“I see myself as an ambassador for women and hope that over the coming years we will see a rise both in the number of female financial advisers and female clients and this will have a knock-on effect on future generations.”
Visit the Evolution for Women website