Black female boss leading corporate multiracial team meeting talking to diverse businesspeople, african american woman executive discussing project plan at group multi-ethnic briefing in boardroom

As women’s share of financial assets grows, their representation in wealth management isn’t keeping pace, according to ISS Market Intelligence.

Women make up just 18% of advisors at Canadian full-service brokerages, ISS said in a new report. That’s up three percentage points from its previous report in 2015.

ISS said the financial services industry is still perceived as male-dominated and lacking flexibility to balance family and work, including maternity leave.

Commission-based compensation may also deter some women who would prefer a fixed minimum salary, especially when starting out.

“Reimagining the compensation structure, improving support systems, and addressing the challenges of recruitment and succession planning are crucial,” said Vince Linsley, associate director at ISS Market Intelligence, in a statement.

“Firms must attract and retain more women in brokerage to effectively serve the growing wealth and preferences of female clients.”

That’s only going to become more important, as studies show women’s share of wealth in Canada continues to grow. A 2019 study from CIBC estimated women will control $4 trillion in assets by 2028.

The ISS report said female advisors will be better positioned to build strong advisory relationships with female clients and identify their needs.

Firms are taking a variety of approaches to bring on more female advisors, the report said. These include introducing women’s committees and mentorship programs, promoting advisor teams, and developing succession strategies and financing programs that encourage women to buy books of business.

Richardson Wealth Ltd. launched a $25-million internal financing program this year that will allow advisors to spread their payments out over seven years when buying a book, and pause payments when they take parental leave — in part to help more young women purchase books.

While progress in the percentage of female advisors has been slow, the report noted more substantial progress when it comes to women in senior leadership. The percentage of female branch managers at brokerages rose to 31% from 15% in 2015, a dramatic increase that could “assist in removing male-focused stigmas within the channel,” the report said.