MNHQ here: work in finance? The UK Parliament's Treasury Select Committee wants to hear from you...

(22 Posts)
RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 08-Feb-18 16:21:49


The digital engagement team at the House of Commons is asking mothers and mothers-to-be who work in finance to share their experiences in the sector. Your contributions will inform an inquiry being held by the Commons Treasury Select Committee.

Here's what the engagement team has to say:

"The Treasury Select Committee is investigating the barriers to women entering and progressing in the financial services industry. As a part of this inquiry, they would like to hear from mothers or expectant mothers working in finance."

"More women than men are employed in financial services, but many do not progress beyond middle management. Female representation at senior levels remains low. The Treasury Select Committee is running an inquiry to understand why this is the case. More information on the inquiry can be found here."

"The Committee would like to know:

Has your career been impacted by having children? If so, how?
Has your firm supported you in returning to work after parental leave? If so, how?
Has having children or working flexibly impacted your reputation, your promotion prospects and/or your pay?
Do you think your caring responsibilities are incompatible with the financial services industry? Have you not applied for promotions or considered leaving?
What more could financial firms do to support mothers to progress to senior roles?"

"Your comments will be shared with the members of the Treasury Select Committee. They will inform the inquiry’s debate and shape future evidence sessions."

"Your name, and any information or opinions you provide, may be used in a Parliamentary debate which will be on the record and available on Parliament TV and Hansard. If you would like your experiences to be anonymised please clearly state that in your comment. Please ensure that you are happy with your comment before sharing."

So, please do let us know what you think!


OP’s posts: |
Ohshucks Thu 08-Feb-18 20:41:52

Id like all comments to be anonymous please but dm me if can answer anything else.

Has your career been impacted by having children? Yes - have not been given same easy promotional route as male counterparts. I was promoted to a senior position but given a lesser title albeit exactly the same objectives as a male colleague. I had to make a case for and ask for a change in title myself.

Has your firm supported you in returning to work after parental leave? Yes but as in above example have had to work harder to "prove myself".

Has having children or working flexibly impacted your reputation, your promotion prospects and/or your pay? Yes negatively impacted all three.

Do you think your caring responsibilities are incompatible with the financial services industry? Yes as flexible working is not offered/ requests unofficially frowned upon. Ridiculously short sighted.

Have you not applied for promotions or considered leaving? Yes considered leaving many times but I love my job and am good at what I do.

What more could financial firms do to support mothers to progress to senior roles? Flexible working should be much easy to achieve and offered at all levels. Increased child care benefits also a big plus. Ensure equal pay at all levels. Mothers returning from maternity shouldn't be made to feel like they have to prove their worth.

Fatbird71 Fri 09-Feb-18 13:42:00

I'm a Financial Controller in an SME. Started as an acct and got promoted. Have been through the adoption process twice - first time took 6 months off and second time 3 months off. My DH is a stay at home dad so don't need to worry about childcare.

I work more than my hours on a regular basis but that means my employer is flexible if I need to attend appts etc.

So, no I don't think my career has been impacted by having my family. I also don't believe that my salary etc has been impacted either as I get paid well for what I do.

I would not be able to work flexibly in my role but that is the same for most roles in my company

My employer also offers CCVs which I find a good benefit and don't want them to switch to the new childcare benefits regime as that is not so favourable to me (and a lot of others)

Fatbird71 Fri 09-Feb-18 13:43:28

As with Ohshucks, I would prefer to remain anonymous but happy to answer any questions that are pm to me

actuarialsunshine Fri 09-Feb-18 16:18:11

I am a qualified actuary, with two young children. I have been reading the insurers pay gap reports and found it amusing to note how many of them note the lack of female actuaries as reasons for their poor statistics.

I finished working two years ago and it is looking increasingly unlikely I will return to actuarial work although it isn't completely ruled out.

I worked for 11 years within one of the big 4 consultancy teams. I did not return after maternity leave with my first child. I then worked for a large insurer for a year before stopping.

Lots of women within my peers at my first employer were selected for the high performance track. They all left to enter industry in mid/late twenties leaving their less able male colleagues to continue. For some this was about finding a more family friendly employer before having children. For some it was purely about the lack of relatable role models. I stayed for so long due to personal circumstances which made it difficult to change.

All the partners were male, uninvolved parents, with stay at home partners who worked long hours and travelled at the drop of a hat. For me, seeing more involved parents of which ever gender would have been helpful for me to see how it could work. Senior men talking about how little they see/prioritise their children doesn't help. I also found the pub based, very 'male' feel of the department offputting which started from a fairly junior level. Just to be clear, this isn't harassement. Just football, beer, cars, how much they had spent on their wives/girlfriends being the main topic of conversations. This was badged as 'networking' and important to career progression.

My pregnancy was challenging. In hindsight the best thing would have been to get signed off for the duration. Instead I tried to contribute what I could. This was not at all appreciated and minimal allowances made. Long travel and long hours were not compatible with feeling rough. It was made clear that once pregnant I was not useful to the team.

The large insurer was far more family friendly. My boss there was super supportive and the work interesting. My impression was that women would keep their careers going there post children far more easily, although part time working would always be a barrier to progressing.

I was very disappointed to leave but my husband who also works in financial services and was far better paid than me due to seniority was offered a promotion so we moved to the South East.

At that point I stopped working to get pregnant with my second child.

Now a combination of his long hours and travel, combined with the commuting required on the South East, means logistics don't work. We would probably require a nanny, the children would not see us on the days we both worked. We are not eligible for any extra financial support with childcare due to my husbands high earnings. We would all be stressed/tired and my salary would only provide a minimal increase for the family post nanny salary despite my marketable qualification. Financially it is better for my husband to have the support to focus on maximising his bonus.

The Institute and Faculty of actuaries did some interesting research into this and found women leave the profession much younger than men and they analysed the reasons why. I note that this has already been referred to in PIC's written submission to you. My husband has seen presentations on this and I remember the overall conclusions surprising him. Of my friends with children in the profession about half were still working part time and half stopped.

The other interesting thing to note is the change in recruitment consultant practices over the last few months. Having had infrequent contact I now get contacted around every 2-3 weeks by someone on Linkedin. The industry is generally busier but I also assume this massive change is being driven by the gender pay gap reporting.

My husband and I never intended for me to stay at home but the realities of the sitiation only really became clear once he started being promoted while I was pregnant. I do feel like all those years training are going to be wasted. I hope it will be better for my daughters.

In an ideal world, we would both work 4 days a week while the children are pre school and then move to a flex arrangement around school. But that would end all progression for both of us. When I work briefly in the Netherlands, basically all parents of young children worked 4 days a week including relatively senior men and it seemed to work better.

The alternative would be for me to work 3 days a week but my/my husbands experience is that didn't work well. Either you end up on boring projects, overworked (working 50 hours a week 3 days a week!) or doing a bad job.

I would prefer for this story to remain anonymous but I am happy to provide more details or answer questions via email if this would be helpful.

TizzleBizzle Fri 09-Feb-18 18:21:27

Has your career been impacted by having children? If so, how?

Yes, I now work part time but my career has stagnated as more senior roles are always full time and office based.

Has your firm supported you in returning to work after parental leave? If so, how?

Yes they agreed to my flexible working request of 4 days p/w and only 3 in the office.

Has having children or working flexibly impacted your reputation, your promotion prospects and/or your pay?

Absolutely. My flexible working was only approved as I have "proven" myself in my present role. Senior roles expect you to give up any flexibility and won't even consider a part time or even full time but with 2 days remote working.

Do you think your caring responsibilities are incompatible with the financial services industry?

Yes, my 3 days in the office mean I leave home at 8 and return at 7.30. I need family help in addition to full days at nursery on those days.

Have you not applied for promotions or considered leaving?

Yes, I have considered going freelance but we want to move house this summer so I need a staff job for the mortgage really.

What more could financial firms do to support mothers to progress to senior roles?

They should look at their value and reputation in their current role and see that an awesome employee doing 3 days per week in the office and a further day flexibly around their children isn't the end of the world and would probably get a hell of a lot more achieved than a mediocre person working full-time just for the sake of presenteeism.

RNBrie Fri 09-Feb-18 20:18:12

I'd like to remain anonymous.

Has your career been impacted by having children?

Yea absolutely. Before i had children I was managing a team of 9 people in a critical role. Now I help out on a tiny part of a big project. I have no one reporting to me. Last week I found out that I'm paid less than someone else with less experience who is the grade below me.

Has your firm supported you in returning to work after parental leave?

They really wanted me to come back. They have now agreed to me working part time which is very unusual. I am grateful to have a part time job but I wish the work was more serious.

Has having children or working flexibly impacted your reputation, your promotion prospects and/or your pay?

My reputation is still ok but my pay is below my grade and I have no hope of promotion. I suspect my reputation is ok because I don't make a fuss.

Do you think your caring responsibilities are incompatible with the financial services industry?

No. I think there is a long hours culture and an inflexibility of thinking but my ability to work hard and be smart hasn't changed.

Have you not applied for promotions or considered leaving?

I have considered leaving. I couldn't find a part time job on comparable pay.

What more could financial firms do to support mothers to progress to senior roles?"

I'd like to see the introduction of quotas. In my dept at work it's currently 11% women and I can't see attitudes changing till the company is forced to hire more women

unenthusiasticfuturedancemom Fri 09-Feb-18 20:58:15

I don't work in finance but I'd be fascinated to know whether the government intends to launch an inquiry into maternal
discrimination in every other bloody industry as well?

This isn't just a finance issue. angry

Dozer Fri 09-Feb-18 21:08:03

The Committee could also consult final year students considering their career choices, and women without DC in the sector.

I chose not even to go into it because it had a terrible reputation for work/life balance and sexism. Friends who did student work placements reported working very, very long hours.

DelurkingAJ Fri 09-Feb-18 21:14:19

I’d like to remain anonymous.

Has your career been impacted by having children? If so, how?

Absolutely. Probably not DC1 where the Big 4 firm promoted me when I was known to be pregnant. But my main partner in the firm was herself a mother to a preschooler at the time. By the time I went on maternity leave with DC2 I was ‘partner track’ at the same firm and they were busy arranging coaching etc. to keep me in the loop (and had again put me up for a promotion (which I missed for very good reason) when I was pregnant). So far, so good. BUT I didn’t know a man at my grade with children whose wife worked full time. And no man with children who were preschool whose wife worked at all. Which meant that though I was always offered big roles I often had to say ‘no’ because childcare meant I couldn’t be at the other end of the country regularly so my internal CV was beginning to suffer and I was surviving on reputation alone. My DH offered to stay home and that was when I realised I didn’t want it enough not to see the DCs. So I moved into industry. But without the ties of childcare I suspect I’d be working 60+ hour weeks aiming for partner.

Has your firm supported you in returning to work after parental leave? If so, how?

As above, they tried so hard but in the race towards the bottom that is a client facing role (compulsory Saturdays in the office that I had to decline as my DH was working then?!) you chose between seeing your DC and promotion.

Going in-house I have landed in my feet. I found a specialist role that pays what I was earning before and explained that I was only taking it if they understood I was doing 9-5. About 5 times a year I stay past 5:30 and I have no access to work outside the office. I’m learning lots and may choose to restart the promotion game once DC are older. But I know I am the luckiest lady to have found that!

Has having children or working flexibly impacted your reputation, your promotion prospects and/or your pay?
Reputation, no. Promotion, probably. Pay, only because of the slight promotion hiatus.

Do you think your caring responsibilities are incompatible with the financial services industry? Have you not applied for promotions or considered leaving?
Client facing roles absolutely. See above!

What more could financial firms do to support mothers to progress to senior roles?
Depends on the firm. I have been in offices where I was not well included because they had ‘boys golf’ but that was heavily discouraged once the partners engaged their collective brains and spotted the problem. Client facing will always be problematic as they’re paying the bills so call the shots and if your firm won’t work weekends someone else will. I do wonder if overtime would have helped to reduce the sheer number of hours but then I remember that I routinely undercooked my hours to avoid writing off time! And then there are the massive cultural issues...I live amongst well educated, clever, kind women and most of them are horrified or mystified that I work full time. And my DH spends a remarkable amount of time explaining at work that he has to check if the grandparents can rescue him for a last minute school holiday meeting (he’s a teacher) as I’m not around to provide childcare! I think when he pointed out that otherwise there would be two under 5s in the Headmaster’s Office they finally began to believe him. And my DC1’s primary cannot wrap their heads around the fact that I’m the third contact if DC1 is’s purely because I’m furthest away, I could leave work if I had too, but in this day and age it still shocks them. And it shouldn’t!

RicStar Sat 10-Feb-18 07:41:55

I think financial services is a massive industry so it is going to be hard to generalise. I work as an FD in a tech sme now - which is very family friendly but does not allow internal progression. There are very few flexible posts that would offer progression - so I have to hope we do it organically. In my industry (acccountancy) there is a significant drop off in numbers of visible - partner / FD / CFO women post 40. I think these are not seen as flexible roles and so women get stuck / move in a tangent and often leave the industry as it is demoralising to have no role models and no opportunities for progression. I think it is probably true that accountancy doesn't appeal strongly to female trailblazers - I know many more as MDs in media or in senior sales roles. The same is also true of tech though. So perhaps accountancy needs to start right at recruitment - why is it not appealing to trailblazers and or what does it do in the first 5 - 10 years to put ambitious women off. Returner programs are OK - but lots of us don't want to 'leave' / this still sends the message that 'good mothers take time out' which I don't find helpful. There should be a focus on allowing flexibility in whatever form not to kill your career and that women in there mid 40s might have the same goals as a man in his mid 30s and this is not a sign of failureof the woman. But at the same time not a presumption that a mid 30s woman with a child or children will want to take a break / a mummy track. Men joke about the new paternity rights Imo very few intend to take them. More support for older children for both parents would help - a child is no magically self sufficient at a year - they get sick. Excellent make parental leave in male dominated industries would be nice to see. So I guess in summary the industry needs to present (through action) a less gendered career path. Greater focus on a slow down SPEED UP model over a career lifetime. A greater willingness to encourage male parenthood to include flexible working / supported parental leave for older children or emergency childcare provisions. The last part is the hardest in many ways the most vital.

meltingsugar Sat 10-Feb-18 09:00:55

Pretty sure this is the same way in NHS Finance too. Lots of women, until middle management, then they all drop off. Rare to have women CFOs or deputies, especially in the active sector (as opposed to commissioning).

meltingsugar Sat 10-Feb-18 09:01:25

*acute not active

Dozer Sat 10-Feb-18 11:25:48

Requiring much more transparency about pay would be good.

Vladtheunbaler Sun 11-Feb-18 21:54:37

I would prefer to be anonymous. I recently left a big 4 firm after 25 years plus in financial services.

Whilst my firm had policies which were supposed to encourage the promotion of women, flexible working etc, the actual working culture was very different. Very often the inability to undertake very long days, and not being able to meet the requirement to drop everything for work commitments, meant that the best projects, the ones which gave opportunities to shine and get recognised, were not available to women on the mummy track.

In addition, as seniority is gained, your ability to network both internally and externally becomes ever more important. Networking in my experience of big 4 firms outside London, still seems to consist of drinks events and sports events, including the golf with clients cliche. All these events take place outside working hours.

Over this period, I would also say that the overall pressure to get jobs done with less resources and in shorter timescales has massively increased. Unpaid overtime is the norm and is an expectation. The idea that someone would progress to partner simply by doing an excellent job within the hours they are contracted for and paid for is frankly risible.

When I joined the firm in 1988, our intake was 50:50 male female. Last year my firm were congratulating themselves on reaching 18% female partners. Without a fundamental sea change in the actual working practices in the firms, probably in response to clients demanding teams which reflect the entirety of our population, I have little hope that anything will change. Perhaps government departments working with large accountancy firms should be leading such demands.

trixymalixy Mon 12-Feb-18 12:42:28

I would prefer to stay anonymous.

I am also an actuary.

Having children has definitely had an impact on my career.

When I was pregnant with my first child there was an internal job I really wanted to apply for, but i was taken aside and told that I wouldn't be considered for it as I was pregnant. They promised I could have my pick of jobs when I came back but it never happened as people had moved on.

Instead I was sidelined into the "maternity team" as we called ourselves, given unimportant work that no-one else wanted to do. None of us lasted long in that team as we were all capable women who went and found ourselves other more interesting, higher profile jobs.

In theory there was support when we came back as there was a returner's bonus and I was allowed to work part time. Those who worked part time were definitely seen as lesser and not allowed to manage teams and a couple of women were actually demoted because they wanted to work part time.

I was made redundant just before i went on my second maternity leave and ended up taking a job that was a step down and had lower pay, but that was more compatible with family life as there was no commute involved and I could drop off/pick up the kids from childcare.

Initially I was full time, but after a year I was allowed to work part time again, but seven years later I have still never managed to get back up to the level I was at before I was made redundant. That is partly because I am part time, but also because I am not as mobile as people who don't have children to think about.

I did get a decent payrise as part of a gender pay review, but I definitely do not earn as much as my male peers who I qualified at the same time as. They have been promoted way above me, despite me being just as capable.

I don't think financial services is incompatible with the financial services industry as such. I do consider myself lucky that I have a very well paid job (my part time salary is more than a lot of my friends' full time salary) that is flexible (I can start/finish whenever i choose or work from home if necessary) and doesn't require too much unpaid overtime.

My promotion prospects are the biggest loss for me and I am considering leaving purely because of this.

I think making flexible part time working available for all and particularly for men would help remove the stigma that part time workers are somehow lesser. I know many men who would like to work part time, but are scared about the impact on their career.

It would help if companies would value part time workers more and could see that quite often part time workers are more productive, I do the same job as my male counterparts in less time.

actuarialsunshine Mon 12-Feb-18 16:18:54

Nice to hear from another actuary. I too have heard of a number of female actuaries on the grapevine being given large unexpected payrises (without promotion) out of the blue just before the gender pay gap reporting came in. It makes me.question whether companies really were abiding by the equal pay for equal work given no one generally discusses salaries.

Chewbecca Mon 12-Feb-18 21:52:38

I'm an accountant working for a global banking group with a 14 year old & 2 x SC.

Has your career been impacted by having children? If so, how?
Yes, I chose to work part time and this means the range of roles open to me is much reduced, due to deadlines / reporting cycles and the expectation that a people manager needs to be working FT. I have just been promoted for the first time since I went part time, 15 years. I would almost certainly have achieved this grade sooner had I not chosen to work short hours (though obviously that is not provable).

Has your firm supported you in returning to work after parental leave? If so, how?
Yes, policies are in place and I've had no difficulty using them. I have chosen my working hours and days plus can wfh when needed. Also have been able to buy additional holiday to make covering school holidays easier.

Has having children or working flexibly impacted your reputation, your promotion prospects and/or your pay?
Reputation: yes, part time is so unusual, people are wary. There is an initial assumption I am not committed which eases when new colleagues get to know me but I have to overcome first impressions.
Promotion prospects: I think so, as above, first impressions are that I don't want promotion, plus the idea that you need to be working FT to take on more responsibility needs tackling. Also the range of roles that are considered to be vaguely doable PT is limited.
Pay: I don't know, sharing pay info can be a disciplinary offence so we have little knowledge of colleagues' pay.

Do you think your caring responsibilities are incompatible with the financial services industry? Have you not applied for promotions or considered leaving?
Yes, on the whole, because of the perception you need to work FT and long hours. I have not considered leaving because of the flexibility my organisation allowed which I did not anticipate being able to get as a new employee, I felt I had this option as an existing employee only.

What more could financial firms do to support mothers to progress to senior roles?
Active encouragement of shorter working hours (not just FT with some WFH), really challenging whether any vacant role could be done in fewer hours. Advertise jobs as being open to PT proposal.
[When I moved role, I have always been replaced with a FT person, my role was advertised as FT.]
Consider actual performance & potential of PT workers, putting aside assumptions.
Losing the 'boys club' culture that exists in some teams.
Planning ahead better and losing the expectation of meetings early/late/last minute.
Offering more (unpaid) time off after maternity leave, without losing continuity of service.
More pay/bonus transparency.
Better role models. Last time I went to a talk by a female COO, she had a house husband and worked horrendously long hours with a hard stop of 6pm on Friday being celebrated. I didn't aspire to her life, I am capable of a senior role but want to be a relatively involved mother too.

trixymalixy Tue 13-Feb-18 09:52:15


That’s interesting. I wonder how many reported statistics of the gender pay gap have been played down by upping salaries in advance of any review.

That was 6 years ago now. I’d be interested to see if I’ve fallen behind again as I’m certain I have.

I constantly have headhunters telling me I’m underpaid. I’m a bit stuck though as there are so few actuarial jobs in my city and I’d have to commute to the next city and I don’t feel any pay rise would be worth the reduction in our quality of life.

It’s depressing!

NotEnoughTimeInTheDay Thu 15-Feb-18 13:00:21

Please anonymise my name in anything published.

I work for a global bank. I’ve worked here for 6 years in middle management. Since just before having my first child I’ve been trying to make the next step to senior management. As I went on maternity leave the first time my boss at the time was urging me to apply for promotions (to senior management) as I was performing very well and had the experience to move on to the next role. That was 3 years ago and I’m still in the same role I was in then. I’ve had one additional maternity leave since and now plan to leave the company to avoid my career stagnating

Has your career been impacted by having children? If so, how?

Yes massively. I’ve not been able to even apply for promotion. The barriers r as follows:

- Most promotion opportunities r only available in offices a significant distance from my home. I’ve asked if they would consider me working from another office and been told no. I already travel 20 miles to my current office (a big hub office so I really don’t see why they can’t have senior managers in my field there) so any further isn’t compatible with a healthy family life

- There was a noticeable change in attitude towards my interest in senior management since leaving for first maternity leave. Rather than encouragement to apply (before children), my more recent line managers (since first maternity leave) have seemed surprised that I would want that role (they do seem
To think I’m capable though!). I do not believe my line managers have been conscious of this change in attitude. I believe it’s entirely subconscious but its easy to let it put you off applying especially if you are not in the office or just returning.

- whilst on maternity leave I have not been informed of suitable promotion opportunities even when they became available in my own team. Again it’s a subconscious oversight. I had several different line managers during Mat leave and the new one didn’t even bother to find out my history before advertising roles and giving them to people with much less experience than me. Yes there is a job board, but it’s a global company and there r thousands of jobs on there and it’s unrealistic to expect me to scower it weekly in case my line manager doesn’t tell me there’s a job going within my own team. Also, I wrongly trusted my line manager to inform me of anything like that. This was the first time a suitable role became available in the right location. I now plan to leave as have accepted I will not be able to progress my career in this company due to this issue and the 2 issues above.

- when you go on maternity leave you are very much at the mercy of the individual line manager. I had one line manager who was making things very difficult while I was trying to return to work. He wouldn’t give me a phone number to contact him. No information about the recent changes in the department. Very vague comments and long delays in responding to me. HR are not very useful they just told me all questions should go via the line manager. My line manager’s line manager isnt very approachable and I’ve never met him so I didn’t feel i could call him. There didn’t seem any way to escalate this behaviour

- The company allowed me to work part-time when I returned from
Mat leave and this was an excellent support. However, my line manager admitted to me, after having done my annual performance review, that he hadn’t realised I was part-time. So my performance was judged alongside all the full-timers and I got no credit for doing the same amount of work as them but in less hours.

If the company really wants to support women into senior management roles they are going to have to do a lot to change these subconscious attitudes. They need to create schemes to support women into senior management (something like the graduate scheme- a senior management fast track- for people who are capable and ready for senior management but seem to be not making that next step).

They also need to offer parents returning after parental leave opportunities to re-energise their careers. Maybe they could have some funding for training in anything they’ve missed or a new skills, or offer some career advice/support (theres something like this if you are made redundant - online training and meeting with careers consultant) which will help them make up for the negative attitudes and the lost time while they’ve been out of the office. It wouldn’t hurt to connect parents returning to work through a group/online chat or something similar.

NotEnoughTimeInTheDay Thu 15-Feb-18 13:04:43

I should also be clear that each of those anecdotes refers to a different line manager not the same one. So it’s not just one difficult individual. It seems to be a wider issue

TreasuryCommittee Thu 03-May-18 16:20:44

Thanks everyone for responding to the call for evidence as part of our Women in Finance inquiry. We’ve completed our oral evidence sessions, and we're in the process of writing our report, which will set out our recommendations to the Government. The evidence we’ve received on Mumsnet has been really helpful, so thanks to everyone who has contributed.

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