Article by Harriet Griffin, Chief Operating Officer at Kingswood
Having started my career at the professional body the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment I was able to get a flavour of the huge range of options you have in financial services. I realised wealth management was the area I wanted to be in. Now I am the Chief Operation Officer at Kingswood. It’s a fantastic role to be in as it touches all areas of the business from integrating the many acquisitions that are taking place to ensuring we have a robust support function. By sharing this list of tips, I hope to encourage more women to enter and thrive in the finance industry.
Create and surround yourself with a strong support network whether it be a coach, sponsor, family member or mentor – he / she will help and guide you in your professional development.
This support system works both ways – make sure you help others by providing the same support.
Businesses can appoint ‘reverse mentors’ to help them understand the challenges, share different perspectives, develop confidence and support inclusivity.
Work on your confidence by speaking up and taking on challenging tasks. Pay attention and support those who talk less – they may have great ideas but lack confidence to share them. Experience has taught me that the loudest person doesn’t always have the best ideas… If you’re chairing a meeting, make sure everyone gets an equal opportunity to speak and ensure everyone asks questions.
If you have or planning to have a family, make sure it’s a partnership on the childcare arrangements, divide the parental work and use your support network. By sharing the load, it not only helps the mother go back to work sooner, if she so desires, but also benefits the relationship between father and child greatly. Signing up to do an MBA when I was pregnant was not just a decision I could make on my own. It was a joint decision with my husband and resulted in a family trip up to campus once a month. My husband, son and I would all go up for three days to enable me to study, feed Oscar, and Robin would look after Oscar whilst I was in lectures. This enabled me to keep on track with the MBA and complete it with my peers.
Diversity and inclusion are key to a productive and creative workforce so be sure to evaluate employees against a clear set of criteria. As a woman, take a leading role in ensuring your firm is sourcing new candidates from as wide a net as possible. Giving everyone the same opportunity to build a career as a financial adviser will ensure that diversity strengthens the industry from within.
One of the key lessons that my MBA taught me was the importance of continuous learning. There are some fantastic books on this topic to help you increase your knowledge and understanding. I would recommend The Authority Gap by Mary Ann Sieghart which examines why women are still taken less seriously than men, and what we can do about it. Other works include How Confidence Works by Ian Robertson which explains how confidence unfolds in our minds, Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez which explores data bias in a world designed for men and Think Again by Adam Grant which asks the reader to question his/her opinions to excel at work and in life.
I am so pleased that I’ve joined the finance industry and have thoroughly enjoyed my career to date. Hopefully, these tips will help you navigate these challenging waters and follow the path to an exciting and rewarding career.
Harriet joined Kingswood Group in March 2020 as COO from Charles Stanley where she held the role of COO of their Private Client Investment Management business. She has considerable experience in wealth management operations, process and control. Harriet is a graduate of the University of Bath and a Chartered Member of the CISI. She completed her MBA at Cranfield University in 2019.