Abika’s story

It wasn’t until 2014 that a woman won the Fields Medal – the most prestigious prize in mathematics. The lack of female role models was perhaps why Abika felt she wasn’t especially mathematical. Despite this, after graduating she found a career in finance and has worked tirelessly since to inspire and educate other young women about the sector.

This is Abika’s story:

“I wanted to be a lawyer, but graduating into a recession left far fewer opportunities open to me than I’d have liked, and I ended up in an engineering company. I learned a lot, but it was never my passion, so I trained in investments. I am really glad I did, as I’m definitely better suited to this than law. I really enjoy my job  – it turns out I am a numbers person after all, and my ability to look at the story behind the numbers enhances my investment work.

There is still a lot of work to be done to get the message out there that women are as capable as men at the so-called STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). It’s a challenge and the stats show that girls lose confidence in their ability versus their male peers by age 6[1], though exam results consistently show that girls shouldn’t be doubting themselves!

“As well as investing for women, though, we need to invest in them.”

I believe a large part of our role as responsible players in financial services is to educate, and I draw a lot from this part of my job. I can point to plenty of times when I have won a big pitch, been recognised for an investment decision, or saved a client tax, but the thing that stands out for me is actually an internal presentation I gave to colleagues about the importance of pensions contributions, when I was a practicing IFA. Off the back of it, a number of women changed their approach to contributions – one girl who was below auto enrolment age started contributions of her own accord, while others increased their voluntary contributions to make the most of employer matching, and another properly considered her attitude to risk for the first time. I felt genuinely proud that I had informed and empowered them to take control of their finances and, potentially, change their futures.

As well as investing for women, though, we need to invest in them. In some ways the industry is really suited to women, for example increasingly there is a focus on flexibility of working. But there are still some legacy issues; we have to make a commitment to build quality female practitioners by engaging with girls earlier in their career development, we have to provide opportunities and a healthy, equal environment for them to work in. Too many times I have been the only female fee earner in the room; it isn’t enough to have a woman on your team, you have to have a culture that makes her feel like one of the team.

“For the first time, I have felt like the industry is starting to change for the better on this point.”

We absolutely need male allies to achieve this. I am very fortunate that the team here at Parmenion is genuinely very egalitarian and my male colleagues have been as quick to call out any instances of inequality as I would be myself. For the first time, I have felt like the industry is starting to change for the better on this point.”

[1] www.bbc.co.uk, 2017

This article is for financial professionals only. Any information contained within is of a general nature and should not be construed as a form of personal recommendation or financial advice. Nor is the information to be considered an offer or solicitation to deal in any financial instrument or to engage in any investment service or activity. Parmenion accepts no duty of care or liability for loss arising from any person acting, or refraining from acting, as a result of any information contained within this article. All investment carries risk. The value of investments, and the income from them, can go down as well as up and investors may get back less than they put in. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.  

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