Celebrating International Women’s Day
The 8th March is International Women’s Day. This annual celebration is a show of appreciation and respect for women and their economic, political and social achievements.
Karen Slupinski, marketing and communications manager with Thorntons Investments, caught up with paraplanner Zoe Malpas to find out more about her experience of being a young woman in the financial services industry.
K: Can you tell me more about your role at Thorntons Investments?
Z: I’m a paraplanner in the financial planning division. I joined Thorntons when I was 21 as a part-time Administration Assistant whilst finishing my BA(Hons) in Finance and Business. My varied role involves supporting the financial planning team by preparing client reports, producing research on behalf of the team, assisting with the review of client’s investments and attending meetings when appropriate. I’m also training to become a financial planner which involves a lot of studying and for a series of exams – it’s not easy, but I’m determined to get there!
K: What challenges do you face as a young woman starting your career in financial services?
Z: The industry is predominately led by men, although this dynamic is starting to change with more women in senior positions. Being a young woman it’s sometimes tough to be taken as seriously as I would like, but I know that respect must be earned and I work hard to get to know our clients to offer them a friendly and professional service. Financial services is highly regulated and the fact we look after our clients’ life savings, and essentially their future, is a commitment I take very seriously. That said, it really is all about the people and I’ve always been a people person and love that side of my job.
K: What support do you get?
Z: We have a diverse team at Thorntons Investments with people at all stages of their careers. I am lucky to work alongside Kim who is a few steps ahead of me with her professional exams, and last yearSusan and Alison joined our team as qualified financial planners which is a path I wish to follow.
I am also on the committee of Women Ahead. This is a charitable organisation that supports women in business throughout Scotland. I’m a member of the Tayside and Angus group and we meet monthly. Sometimes this takes the form of a seminar or networking event, and other times it’s a social occasion with a quiz (and quite often wine!). In December last year I was very proud to host a Women Ahead event in our newly renovated offices at Thorntons Investments. My colleague Susan shared some stories and advice on how women can make the most of their money which was very well received.
Through Women Ahead I’ve been introduced to many successful women in the local area who I would never crossed paths with. These women were once just like me and they really inspire me to dream big and work hard.
K: Inspiring role models are important, for women and men regardless of their stage of career. Are there any famous people who inspire you?
Z: I’m a huge fan of Michelle Obama. She manages to balance being a strong and assertive woman, whilst proudly showing her soft and compassionate side.
K: What advice would you offer other young women considering a role in financial services?
Z: Financial services is changing, society is changing and young women like myself need to be to be part of the process. We must continue to work towards our goals, support each other and encourage women to succeed. I hope that more young women consider financial services as a viable career, working with a variety of people to provide a service that really matters – financial security for their family’s future. The number of female millionaires is growing faster than the number of male millionaires, and a recent poll in the US indicated that 52% of management, professional and related positions were filled by women. We have come a long way and we should all celebrate the success we have (many of us may not yet be a millionaire, but we can aspire to be!).