We Wealth | March 2021

Elena Goitini’s recent appointment as CEO of BNL BNP Paribas has made us all proud: an Italian woman leading one of the largest Italian banks, part of a French group. 

Luckily, it is not a one-time instance: in Italy, other women hold leading positions as top managers in financial networks (Paola Pietrafesa in Allianz Bank), Asset Management Companies (Loredana La Pace in Goldman Sachs, Simona Merzagora in NNIP, Alexia Giugni in DWS and Cinzia Tagliabue in Amundi), insurance companies (Maria Luisa Gota in Fideuram Vita, Isabella Fumagalli in Cardiff). Moreover, several women work in the field of financial consultancy – and, in this case, the list is longer. Of course, the way towards recognition and meritocracy regardless of gender is fraught with obstacles. 

The surveys that Finer conducts every year involving 3.300 financial advisors (CF Explorer), 1.700 Private Bankers (PB Explorer) and 2.000 bank managers assigned to affluent clients (BM Explorer) reveal that the percentage of women in these categories ranges from 19% among financial advisors, 27% among private bankers, to 48% among bank managers. 

To these three categories correspond three different service models characterized by two different professional figures: agents and employees. This partly explains the difference in number of women. 

In fact, the three service models have substantial differences in their strengths: financial networks are the champions of asset management, champions of business proactivity and ability to operate digitally or remotely. Banks are characterized by their local presence, by their range of products and services. Even if they offer a wide range of products – from asset management to insurance products – their peculiarity rests in credit supply. 

Among employees there is greater gender disparity.

Women are less satisfied than their male colleagues with remuneration – they give greater importance to business welfare while men are more responsive to monetary bonuses. 

Among financial advisors this difference is minimal, because retribution is connected directly to the results of one’s work – with equal skills, clients tend not to discriminate between genders. 

In this case, the gender gap is meaningful on a series of aspects – women tend to be more satisfied than men with attention, marketing supports, products, operations and the involvement of the bank/network. 

The most meaningful difference is the level of loyalty to one’s company: women, whether financial advisors or employees, tend to be much more loyal to their company and their team. 

On top of that, women are on average more demanding than their colleagues about services with higher added value (wealth management, taxation, generational handover, club deals, private insurance, corporate finance). 

In other words, female professionals seem characterized by a greater ability to open up their horizon to a wider range of topics, rather than the sole asset management.

According to clients, female professionals are characterized by a higher level of flexibility and ability to listen; they are perceived as being less pressuring, less affected by performance anxiety than their male colleagues.  

Statistics confirm that the presence of women in the boards of listed companies is positively associated to the sustainable progress of profit in time: facts, not words. 

Nicola Ronchetti