If female school or university students volunteer for work experience in finance, organisations have a “duty” to offer it to them, according to a senior funds management executive.
Finance firms ‘should put out welcome mat for female interns’
Camilla Love founded F3 to educate young women – from year 10 to the end of university – about careers in finance via career days or podcasts, for example, and provide them with work experience and internships.
Ms Love – who is also a director at Perennial Investment Management – lamented that organisations continue to offer internships to those with prior work experience in finance.
“I recently had a female candidate who said she was in the last round for an internship but didn’t get it because she didn’t have any prior work experience in finance,” Ms Love told Accountants Daily ahead of the inaugural Women in Finance Summit 2023.
“But it’s an internship. This is meant to be her work experience in finance. It’s these dumb things that really could drive girls away from finance because they think no one will take them on because they don’t have work experience in finance. So, they might not bother anymore.”
Ms Love said finance companies had a “duty” to offer internships and work experience to young women who volunteered for them.
“Why don’t we try to encourage women rather than set them back at their first hurdle?” she asked.
“We must arm the next generation of female talent with the knowledge of what the financial services industry does. If we don’t break down those barriers, they’ll go to Apple or Google or other big brand names they’ve grown up with instead of the hundreds of wonderful, strong, globally renowned financial services businesses in Australia.”
Her comments preceded the first Women in Finance Summit 2023, where she will join a panel of speakers who will discuss how to empower women in financial services and build a strong future, and how to create an inclusive industry that attracts and retains more women.
According to Ms Love, F3 provides online work experience placements, particularly for female university students alongside a mentor and a corporate partner.
During their six-week program, the students are asked to solve a business problem, at the end of which they are asked to provide a solution.
Ms Love added that she offers placements to students regardless of their HSC ATAR, choice of university or degree, or their performance in university courses.
“If students have put their hand up and self-selected to do work experience in financial services, they should get it regardless of any of the above,” she said.
Ms Love said she is determined to debunk misconceptions of what finance is, and the skills required to succeed in it (including whether candidates are required to have a strong acumen in mathematics).
“There’s a maths component to it but at the end of the day, it’s a people business. We have to show that it’s a collegiate, supportive industry, in which people can find purpose,” Ms Love underscored.
“I’ve got a girl who came to me in year 10 for work experience. She then did a business degree and came back for work experience while at university. That’s a whole cycle.”
Noting that retention of female employees is also challenging in finance, Ms Love urged businesses to introduce flexible workplace policies for women, particularly as women take career breaks to have families or assume other caring responsibilities.
“Workplaces must create an inclusive and authentic culture that enables women to reskill and be supported to re-enter the industry that they’ve had a history with,” she said.
“I recently talked to a female CEO of a family business. Her chief investment officer is a female and she’s got a number of females in her investment team. I told her that was possible because she’s a successful leader. She’s created the pipeline of people to follow her.”
She concluded: “Having that leadership piece is critical.”
To hear more from Camilla Love about the tools and support systems available to women in finance and how to increase representation across generations, come along to the Women in Finance Summit 2023.
It will be held on Friday, 10 November 2023 at The Star Sydney.