Susan Hill: “Attitudes to gender haven’t changed in 30 years.”

May 7, 2019

In our latest Women in Finance interview, Susan Hill (Susan Hill Financial Planning) discusses gender inequality, encouraging women to invest and the importance of making her clients’ money work harder.

Despite a move in the right direction, Susan Hill is not satisfied at the growth in representation of women in financial services. “Attitudes to gender haven’t changed a bit have they? I mean, come on, we were at about 10% and we’re now at 12% now…in 30 years! That’s appalling.”

Having set up her own company, she’s eager to empower and liberate female investors. She makes no bones about it. To stand out from the crowd she made the ‘extremely intentional’ decision to put her name front and centre, knowing full well her company would stand out amongst others in her male-dominated profession.

“I’ve had a few criticisms along the way,” she reflects. On occasion her peers labelled her ‘arrogant’, however, she explains, “I’m trying to tell people you’ve got a woman here, this is a female business.” It’s certainly paying dividends.

“We get lots of women,” she says. “Actually we get lots of men coming too, those who want to have their wife, or their spouse or partner, involved in the financial planning process. They specifically want a woman to guide them.”

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Encouraging women who’ve had children and educating the next generation of women in finance drives Susan every day. She’s eager to highlight the opportunities on offer and to help carve paths for them to follow. “I want to inspire younger women to come into this profession,” she says with passion.

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“Particularly women who are returning to work after having had children and younger people, children going to secondary school thinking about potential careers.”

Susan’s own attempts to climb the career ladder saw her repeatedly face sexist attitudes.

 

She highlights instances interviewing for fund manager and stockbroking positions when she was told, “Sorry, you’re female, you can’t do that. You can wash the dishes and serve the tea.”

 

She didn’t give up and joined the Royal Air Force for six years as an accounts officer. After her short service commission she went to work for a licensed pension company where she honed her fund management skills.

Much has changed in the last decade. Susan welcomes the formalising of technical knowledge and “the fact that we’re chartered and that we have got exams and you can get to a certain level with them.”

Then there’s the remarkable evolution of technology. “Technology is a big thing because whatever you are doing technology-wise has advanced,” she reflects. Embracing the latest tech allows her more time to focus on her clients and helping them achieve their goals. First she focuses on “understanding what is causing an issue in their lives” and then it’s about helping them make their money work harder.

“People have assets,” she explains, “they either have a house or they’ve got a pension scheme, they’ve got assets around. It’s just that they’re not working for them. You often come across people who’ve got a reasonable amount of money but it’s sitting in cash. A lot of my job is educating people on how to make your money work for you, how to be confident about owning money. And that’s the journey I take them on.”