Tech, finance and female advisers: Anna Sofat discusses the “new rules of engagement”

October 16, 2018

Anna Sofat, the founder and Managing Director of women focused financial services boutique Addidi, discusses the future of financial advice and gives some timely tips on young women looking to enter the industry.

Did you know that almost half of financial advisory firms have no female advisers? Women make up over 40% of IFA clients, but only 5% of firms say they are actively working to increase gender diversity in their organisation.

It’s not all bad news though, because women are gaining more recognition within the industry.

With over 400 women nominated for the inaugural Women in Financial Advice Awards, the image of financial advice as an older man’s club is slowly ebbing away. Anna Sofat, the founder and Managing Director of women focused financial services boutique Addidi, is one of the nominees.

“I am grateful and excited (to be nominated)”, she says, “I don’t think of myself as a role model, but I hope my story will encourage more female advisers to appreciate that they can set their own rules of engagement with clients and the industry.”

Anna is not overly loud or forceful, but she hasn’t let the male dominance of her industry scare her off. “I am softly spoken and don’t come across as very assertive, but I don’t tend to pay much mind to what’s been said. I would never have set up a female focused business if I listened to every negative voice out there.”

Women make up around 40% of IFA clients, but 65% switch wealth managers because they are not satisfied with the customer service and reportedly feel misunderstood. Is the lack of female advisers to blame?

Anna thinks we need to change the conversation to suit the way women relate to money. “We need to change the culture of wealth, and more broadly, the culture in financial services,” she says, “Women are less motivated by money per se and are put off by sales blurb. They are much more about creating, investing and enjoying their wealth for a purpose! So we not only need more women advisers, but we also need more businesses to move away from the hard sales, target focused environment.”

If there are no job opportunities which work for your circumstances, why not create your own? That’s what Anna did when, as a new mother, she realised she needed a third option in between full-time work and full-time motherhood.

“I wanted flexibility when my daughters were born; I didn’t want to be a full time Mum, but I also realised I could not continue working the hours I was,” Anna explains. “Working patterns were inflexible, so when I failed to find anything of interest on a part time or flexible basis, I set up my own business and trained myself.”

What does the future of financial advisory services look like? Will robots be running the show? Will we be swarmed with huge, faceless corporations? Anna thinks the opposite: that the future lies with smaller, more personal organisations rather than huge, nationwide firms.

When it comes to the future of technology, Anna remains optimistic: “Technology is helping advisers by making some of the laborious tasks easier.

“Technology provides different ways to communicate with clients and makes managing data less painful. I am hopeful technology, along with empathetic advisers, will provide far more fine-tuned solutions to large segments of the population going forward.”

Technology used to support and supplement better financial face-to-face advice is the way forward for the industry. But what does the future hold for women within the industry? Clearly the financial advisory industry needs more women to join the ranks, so what advice does Anna, who has over 20 years of experience in the industry, have for new female recruits?

“You can be a success on your own terms. Have faith, work hard, stay focused. You know who and what you are better than any consultant or marketing agency.”