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Career prospects improving for women in finance

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Two thirds (64 percent) of UK finance chiefs say there are more opportunities for women to advance through the ranks in finance and accounting than 10 years ago. Increased opportunities improve chances for women to secure executive board positions, say 87 percent of UK finance directors.

Geographic divide in perceptions of opportunities for female career progression

81 percent of finance directors believe they will help women move into the top spot of chief executive. A career in finance and accounting is a sound choice for aspiring female CEOs, according to new research from leading specialist recruitment consultancy Robert Half UK. Almost two thirds (64 percent) of UK finance directors believe that there are more opportunities for women to move up the ranks in finance and accounting roles than 10 years ago, while 87 percent think women have a better chance of securing executive board positions as a result of those opportunities and 81 percent believe they have a better chance of moving into a chief executive role.

A report by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) finds that the total proportion of female members and students in the accountancy profession remained broadly constant between 2010 and 2014 at around 50 percent. However, the percentage of female qualified members is 36 percent, suggesting that while equal numbers of men and women start a career in finance and accounting, more men maintain a longer-term tenure in the profession. The percentage of women in the accountancy profession is growing slowly, moving from 34 percent in 2010 to 36 percent in 2014. Female finance chiefs are more positive than male finance directors about the opportunities for women to progress. More than two thirds (67 percent) of female finance directors believe there are better opportunities than 10 years ago, compared to 61 percent of men. The vast majority (92 percent) of female FDs think women have a better chance of reaching the board compared to 83 percent of men, while 88 percent of female FDs think women could become CEOs following a more positive career in finance and accounting compared to 75 percent of men.

Finance directors in London and the South East are also far more positive about opportunities for women to progress to the top spots in business than counterparts in other regions. Three quarters (75 percent) believe women have a better chance of moving through the ranks in finance and accounting compared to 65 percent of FDs in the South West and Wales, 65 percent in the North, 60 percent in the Midlands and 55 percent in Scotland. Phil Sheridan, Managing Director of Robert Half UK, commented: “Creating a diverse talent pool should be at the top of the agenda for businesses, alongside attracting and retaining skilled professionals. Providing more career opportunities for women within finance will see a stronger talent network for business to draw upon. This will not only improve prospects for women, but for the economy as a whole.

“Candidates with a strong background in finance are highly-valued as these professionals can drive business objectives with a strong understanding of the financial implications, and are therefore often candidates for the role of CEO. Talented accounting and finance professionals who are able to translate actionable insight from the numbers are more likely to accelerate their career projection.”

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