“The industry recognizes the need for better female representation in brokerage but may need to redefine what success looks like and how quickly it can be achieved,” said Vince Linsley, Associate Director at ISS Market Intelligence.

July 24, 2023

Progress Remains Elusive for Female Representation in Canadian Brokerage Industry, ISS Market Intelligence Finds

TORONTO (July 24, 2023) – ISS Market Intelligence (ISS MI), a unit of Institutional Shareholder Services providing critical data and insights to global asset managers, insurance companies, and distributors to help them make informed and strategic decisions to manage and grow their business, today announced the release of its special research feature on female representation in the Canadian full-service brokerage (FSB) channel. The report examines challenges that female advisors face and the strategies brokerage firms are implementing to address these issues.

The report finds that, despite the increasing financial influence of women (with an estimated C$4 trillion in assets to be female owned by 2028), the FSB channel has made limited progress in female representation, with women comprising just 18 percent of Canadian advisors as of 2023, up 3 percentage points from 2015.

Maternity leave and the perception of the industry as male-dominated remain significant hurdles for women in brokerage, the report finds. Balancing family and work responsibilities are a critical consideration for many female advisors while the commission-based compensation model favored by the industry deters some women who expressed a preference for a fixed salary minimum in the early years of their careers. Industry perception and lack of awareness also play a role in the low female representation among advisors, with negative stereotypes and limited awareness of opportunities hindering recruitment of women.

Despite these challenges, the report finds that increasing female representation in brokerage will be important as women’s share of wealth grows, both in Canada and elsewhere. Female advisors are well-positioned to understand the unique needs of female clients including longevity risk and income gaps, and can offer valuable relationship-building and empathy skills, according to the report.

Firms are taking a multi-pronged approach to attract and support more women in brokerage, including by recruiting from universities, promoting career days, and offering support initiatives like mentorship programs, internships, and shadowing roles. Firms also report using advisor teaming to build diverse teams that can better serve a diverse client base. However, compensation issues and the need to bring new, younger candidates into the industry pose challenges, the report finds.

To meet these challenges, firms are focusing on recruiting efforts and teaming, as well as establishing succession plans that pass on books of business to younger female advisors. Some firms have also introduced financing programs to help address the issue of paying for a book of business, particularly while on leave.

One area where FSB firms have made significant advances is the percentage of female branch managers in their networks. For the Big Six bank-owned firms, the share of female branch managers has increased sharply to 31 percent in 2022 from 11 percent in 2015. Similarly, female branch managers lead 32 percent of branches at non-Big bank-owned brokerages firms, up from 20 percent seven years ago.

While the report finds that there has been some progress in increasing female representation in recent years, the industry has yet to achieve significant change. Targets for increasing the number of female advisors vary among firms, with long-term goals typically ranging from having teams where women advisors comprise anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of the team. However, reimagining the grid pay structure and adjusting goals may be necessary, considering the preference of many women for non-commission roles.

“The industry recognizes the need for better female representation in brokerage but may need to redefine what success looks like and how quickly it can be achieved,” said Vince Linsley, Associate Director at ISS Market Intelligence. “Reimagining the compensation structure, improving support systems, and addressing the challenges of recruitment and succession planning are crucial. Firms must attract and retain more women in brokerage to effectively serve the growing wealth and preferences of female clients.”

Learn more about ISS MI’s Women in Brokerage report here


About ISS Market Intelligence
ISS Market Intelligence (MI) is a leading global provider of data, analytics, insights, media, and events solutions to the global financial services industry. ISS MI empowers global asset and wealth management firms, insurance companies, distributors, service providers, and technology firms by providing cutting-edge market-engagement platforms and the actionable intelligence necessary to fully assess their target markets, identify and analyze the best opportunities within those markets, and execute on comprehensive go-to-market initiatives to grow their business.  ISS MI clients benefit from our increasingly connected global ecosystem that leverages a combination of proprietary data, powerful software and analytics, timely and relevant insights, in-depth research, as well as an extensive suite of industry leading media brands that deliver unmatched market connectivity through news and editorial content, events, training, ratings, and awards. ISS MI data and analytics solutions include intelligence from BrightScope, Discovery Data, Financial Clarity, Flowspring, FWW, Investor Economics, MISight, Mortgage Clarity, Plan for Life, RainmakerLive, and Simfund, and ISS MI media brands and market-engagement platforms include Chief Investment Officer, PlanAdvisor, PlanSponsor, Financial Standard, FS Sustainability, Money, and Industry Moves.

Media Contact:

Audrey Dedrick
Associate, Communications

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