Boozy networking nights and family obligations account for the low number of female financial advisors - a new study has found.

The collaborative study by the University of Otago and RMIT University Melbourne looked at why there were so few women in New Zealand and Australia's financial advising industry.

Females constitute only 20 percent of Australian and 23.5 percent of New Zealand Financial Advising Professionals (FAPs).

Co-authors Dr. Helen Roberts and Associate Professor Ros Whiting of Otago and Dr. Daniel Richards of RMIT identified barriers for women and strategies they use to overcome them.


Dr. Roberts said male-dominated and alcohol-based networking events common in the industry didn't suit a lot of women.

"Women we spoke to talked about barriers such as male-dominated networking events being uncomfortable experiences as they often centered around alcohol," Dr. Roberts said.

"Those types of events might work well for men in a male-dominated industry, however for a female adviser they are often a negative experience, and the women prefer to network in other ways."

The study found the competitive sales-based structures, meeting client needs, difficulties networking, dominant masculine management culture and the gendered nature of flexible work inhibit women's careers in financial advice.

"These factors aren't necessarily wrong from an employment law perspective, however, we've discovered they significantly impact career progression and job satisfaction for female advisers," Dr. Roberts said.

Family commitments and women often being the primary caregiver for family, also created difficulties building long-term client bases and restricted after-hours networking opportunities.

Dr. Richards said common strategies to overcome these barriers included finding a more suitable manager, mentoring, selective networking and establishing a partnership arrangement with another adviser.

Action points to enable more women to succeed in the industry included:


* The industry could normalise temporary part-time work opportunities for all employees and provide a defined route for advancement from a part-time position to an advising role.

* Adviser partnerships (already operating in NZ) enhance work-life balance and should be considered in Australia.

* The removal of conflicted remuneration in Australia and/or an option for fixed compensation may encourage female FAP participation.

* Providing a variety of networking opportunities will allow females to choose a suitable time and environment to participate.

* Senior management needs to actively promote changes in culture to champion female recruitment and retention.

* Industry leaders and fellow FAPs need to develop strategies that allow women FAP's selective networking techniques to flourish and ensure they build strong client bases.