Asia-Based Female Millennials Have Higher Opinion Of Financial Services Than Their Global Peers

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, 10 June 2015


Asian women born between the mid-80s and mid-90s tend to have a higher view of financial services in general than among their peers around the world, according to a global survey by PwC.

A survey of female millennials – those born between 1985 and 1995 - has found that this population cohort will be crucial in driving future growth in the financial services industry, and those from the Asia-Pacific region generally have a more favourable view of banking and capital markets than their global peers.

The report by PricewaterhouseCoopers is based on international research with 10,105 millennial respondents from over 70 countries worldwide, 8,756 of whom were female millennials, nearly 600 of whom work in financial services (398 from banking and capital markets, 115 from insurance and 83 from asset management).

The survey, covering 12 industries, showed that 596 of the respondents work in banking, capital markets, insurance and asset management. Of that global total, 63 worked in financial services in Singapore.

Globally, some 60 per cent of female millennials in financial services see opportunities for career progression as the most important attribute in an employer. A lack of them is also the number one reason why female millennials in the sector left their last job, with 34 per cent citing it among the top three reasons.

However, only 35 per cent said they can rise to senior levels within their current organisation - half the proportion of men working within the financial services business.

At 57 per cent, pay is just behind career progression as the most important attribute in an employer. Good benefits packages including pensions and healthcare is next on the list (36 per cent).

More than four-fifths of female millennials in financial services (87 per cent) say an employer’s policy on diversity, equality and inclusiveness is important when choosing whether to work for them. However, 61 per cent of female millennials in financial services say their employer isn’t doing enough to encourage diversity (in insurance this is an even higher, at 64 per cent), and 73 per cent believe financial services firms talk about diversity, but opportunities are not equal for all (80 per cent in insurance). Half said promotion is biased towards men.

International career
More than two-thirds of female millennials in FS (68 per cent) would like to work outside their home country and 55 per cent believe they need to gain international experience to further their career. However, 22 per cent feel women are given fewer opportunities to undertake international assignments than men, rising to 30 per cent in insurance.

Different issues to overcome
Thirteen per cent of women taking part in the survey wouldn’t work in insurance because of its image, and 10 per cent wouldn’t work in banking and capital markets, though in asset management this figure is only 5 per cent.

It would appear insurance has particular issues to overcome. Female millennials in financial services believe insurers are doing less to promote equality and more feel promotion is biased towards men in insurance than other financial service sectors.

Asset management has more positive senior role models (73 per cent versus 67 per cent for financial services as a whole) and participants are more positive about the coaching they receive.

Asia has a better image
There are large regional variations. In particular, perceptions of banking and capital markets among all the women taking part in the survey (from across all industries) are much more favourable in Asia-Pacific, perhaps reflecting both the less dramatic impact of the financial crisis and the strong and prominent presence of women within senior leadership within the region.

The increased presence of women in FS can improve the ability to build relationships and engender trust, giving firms an edge, particularly in the growing wealth management sector in Asia, PwC said in its report.

“There is clearly a danger that if expectations aren’t met, women will simply be put off joining the financial services sector or vote with their feet and leave. Within this highly networked generation, the poor perceptions of current staff can quickly spread and discourage potential recruits,” Karen Loon, PwC Singapore’s banking and capital markets leader and diversity leader, said.

“At a time when 70 per cent of financial services CEOs see the limited availability of key skills as a threat to their growth prospects, it clearly is vital to make the most of all the available talent, including women. But the importance of women succeeding in the workplace goes further. With many organisations still continuing to focus on the changes required to their culture, the attraction, retention and success of women at all levels of the organisations will surely be an important factor in their successful transformation,” Loon said.

The twelve industry sectors covered in the report are financial services, defence, oil and gas, government and public services, chemicals, metals, forest, paper and packaging, energy, utilities and mining, industrial manufacturing, healthcare, automotive, engineering and construction.

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