Strategy

Isle Of Man's Financial Sector More Woman-Friendly Than UK, Says Senior Practitioner

Robbie Lawther, Reporter, 18 June 2018

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Your WB correspondent recently went to the Isle of Man for the Islexpo 2018, and interviewed several professionals on the island surrounding financial services issues, including women in finance.

The need to encourage more women to work and stay in the wealth industry has been a talking point for some time. Reports about "gender pay gaps" have put the issue higher up the business and political agenda. In the Isle of Man, meanwhile, companies listed there do not - unlike the UK - have to publish data on gender pay issues, but paradoxically firms in the Crown Dependency say the island is ahead of its big neighbour in the equality stakes.

WealthBriefing recent interviewed Gill Marples, director at IntegraLife International and chair of the Manx Insurance Association, to discuss the role of women in financial services in the jurisdiction. Marples has been in the financial services sector for around 25 years, including 20 years at wealth management provider IOMA Group as compliance and operations director.

Are there any challenges for women in financial services in the Isle of Man?
“From my personal experience, I have never thought there was an issue. What I do think we need to challenge is that there have always been roles for women at certain levels for financial services and I think there are a set of disciplines that have always be seen as the woman’s. I have gone down the compliance side, and as a woman you are 'allowed' to do that. If you were looking a bit more at sales and marketing, they tend to be dominated by the males. And whether that is because a woman’s particular skillset is suited to a discipline, this could be the case. I think for a woman to get on they have to better than a man in the same position. And I don’t think that has changed.”

What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap issues in London – are there similar issues in the Isle of Man?
“I think it has to be strategically changed over time. We are not required to publish here, so we don’t know what the results would be. I would suspect that they might be different from the UK because of the restricted pool that we deal with. I think that one level down from the top jobs – the Isle of Man would be well represented by women. You have got a lot of senior managers who are women. Some of it may be down to childcare issues. Maybe it is easier on a small island to pick your child up than the travelling in London. That is a big plus and I don’t think we make enough of it. We should be publicising those qualities. I have suggested before that we should do a survey on the amount of working women in financial services because we don’t have to publicise the fact. I don’t think you can force things. I think forcing quotas doesn’t work if it is not embraced properly. It has to be embraced as this is what we want rather than this is what we have to do with all kinds of diversity issues.”

How do you promote the financial services sector as a professional for both men and women?
“I think it starts at school. I think the sector should promote financial awareness and the industry. In my generation, there are so many people that drifted into the industry. I think what has to happen is making it a career choice, and that probably has changed since I was at school. I think the industry has a lot of work to do on promoting where it can take you. You can travel, you can work in different sectors and you can be trained without going to university.”

What are the benefits of working in the Isle of Man as a woman in financial services?
“I don’t think we promote as well as we could. I think it is a topic of interest the agency should be looking at. As a woman in financial services in the Isle of Man, we are in a community, it has its benefits. You feel part of that community. We can talk to each other, and talk about common issues. The upsides can be the downsides, as if something goes wrong, everyone knows it. But for me that has always been a plus. It is a way you can learn from each other and as an industry you can benefit with that cooperation.”

What do you want to see in the Isle of Man in regards to women in finance?
“From the Isle of Man’s point of view, it would be nice to see a few more women running companies. But that has happened in the past. Some of it has to be desire in women as well. It could be that it is a conscious decision that they don’t want to get that far. But I think continuing to be as we are, continuing to be an island that gives women an environment that they can work and they can progress, is key. I think what is going to change things is giving women the opportunity to do it.”
 

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