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Career story: encouraging women into financial services

25 January, 2022Juno Baker

Despite a successful career in a high street bank, Dawn Patrick struggled to land the right financial services role after having children. Now she’s a successful financial adviser supporting other women entering the sector.

Dawn PatrickDawn Patrick loves her work. 

“We change people’s lives,” she says. “You change clients’ outcomes from where they are to where they want to be. You get to be part of that journey and build those relationships.”

She’s fought hard to stay in the industry. Shortly after she got back to work, when her eldest was born, Dawn was made redundant.

“I thought, that’s okay. I’ve got a great CV and my childcare in place. I’ll get another job.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple.

The market was flooded with redundant financial advisers in 2012. So she took some time out, had another child and did the Level 4 Diploma in Financial Advice (DipFA).

But even when she’d achieved DipFA, Dawn found it hard to find the right role and had to settle for what she could get.

“A mortgage administrator’s job with a local company. That’s all they’d give me because I wanted to work part time and had young children.”

Worse, the work culture at her new firm was hostile. Colleagues – between chatting and reading the papers – made rude remarks about her being “a part-timer”.

“So, I looked into self-employment and remembered all the reasons why I’d been successful before.”

Then Dawn’s youngest was rushed to hospital with appendicitis and had to spend a month in intensive care. “My employer was horrendous – ringing me up and asking where’s this case, you haven’t done that, what are you doing. I just said, I’m not coming back.”

Dawn set herself up as an independent adviser in 2019, starting with a few clients who recommended her to others.

Setting up as a financial adviser

Soon, the business grew.

“And I thought, here I am running my business balancing my home and work life. Where are all these other women that were made redundant when I was?”

So she started a Facebook group – the Business Lounge. First an old colleague, then more and more women, got in touch. The Business Lounge has now become a supportive group for women working in regulated advice.

“It’s brilliant! If we can, we meet in person somewhere central like Beverley or York, or we do Teams or a Zoom. It’s nice to talk to people who really understand the challenges we have as business owners. And I get a lot from it because they support me and inspire me as well.”

Why regulated advice needs more women

In recent years the industry’s begun to recognise it needs more women.

“You go to a conference room with financial advisers and it’s just a sea of black suits and pepper hair,” says Dawn. “All men. It’s not that we need less men, but we do need more women.”

So she’s taking steps to formalise the Business Lounge to give women in regulated advice the business skills they need. “Things like, what’s my unique selling point? How do I build my business? How to balance home and work life and what technology is available to help you do that.”

This will help the financial services sector better serve the rising number of high-earning women.

“You have to relate to the person you’re trusting with your money. If we had a wider range of advisers available, there’d be better outcomes for these women. It’s about having the right people, giving the right advice to women, when they want it. And,” she points out, “some women will relate better to a man.”

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