Finance companies need to address the underrepresentation of women and people of colour if they are “serious about growing their business,” affirms the COO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations.
The observation from Beverley Yeomans, Chief Operating and Diversity Officer at deVere Group, comes as concerns grow on the back of new research about the lack of representation at the top of the financial services sector.
She notes: “Women and people of colour continue to be underrepresented in finance including financial advisories, insurance firms, banks, wealth and asset managers, investment companies, fintech firms, banks and auditors.
“This is largely down to traditional industry biases, social norms and economic disparities.”
She continues: “However, as society continues to evolve; and client expectations about and value for diversity and inclusion grow; and as global financial regulators are demanding improvements to companies’ agendas, firms cannot ignore the underrepresentation any longer.
“But it is more than this too: diversity and inclusion must form an integral part of a firm’s culture because the business case for it is so strong. It helps improve the ‘bottom line.’ If firms are serious about growing their business, they need to address the question of diversity.”
For Beverley Yeomans, who has held senior executive positions within deVere Group for more than 20 years, there are three main areas of focus that demonstrate her approach.
“First, innovation and productivity. Our industry is evolving at lightning speed, with tech now at the core of almost everything we do. This evolution is only going to gain momentum in the coming years,” she says.
“A diverse and inclusive team is key to driving innovation and creativity, and guiding business strategies to meet the shifting expectations of a changing marketplace.
“Multiple different voices lead to new ideas, the development of new services and products, the ability to diversify operations and models, and to promote out-of-the box thinking.
“This, of course, helps differentiate a business from its competitors and can help win new clients.”
The deVere COO and CDO goes on to say: “Second, recruitment and retention.
“If the business has diversity and inclusion as a core feature of its culture, then when it comes to finding new talent there is a significantly larger pool.
“It will not be about recruiting a certain type of candidate,’ instead focus will be on the skills a person can bring and contribute, meaning only top talent will be hired.
“It will also help with employee retention. When team members feel that their individuality is valued, they will typically remain with the organisation and enthusiastically contribute to the mission and vision of the company.”
“And third, D&I benefits existing and potential clients. This is because a wide-spectrum of values, genders, races and ages will innately help with building better relationships – which is what our business is all about.”
“The business case for diversity and inclusion is clear. It means more and better innovation, increased levels of productivity, more opportunities for recruitment, higher levels of employee retention, and a better grasp of our clients’ needs and wants.”
Beverley Yeomans concludes: “In short, it’s not about ticking a box. It’s about competitive edge. And it’s also the right thing to do. It’s a win-win every time.”