Just 25% of people going into banking in London last year were women

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Ensuring that more women progress in their finance career is not just about empowerment – the UK has a supply problem. Just 25% of people going into the financial sector last year were women, and this is the lowest number since the financial crisis.

A shiny new report released today into ‘empowering’ women in financial services produced the UK government and Virgin Money CEO Jayne-Anne Gadhia over the past nine months, internal diversity targets for senior management, publication of annual progress reports and an executive for ‘gender, diversity and inclusion’ were all key recommendations.

More women than men are entering finance, it says, so it’s a case of empowering them and unthawing the ‘permafrost’ at the mid-level. This is not just about childcare, it says, but because the culture in finance is still deeply flawed.

However, financial service is a broad industry, and one of the key challenges for banks is to promote more women in client-facing roles.

Analysis of every ‘new approved’ person on the Financial Conduct Authority register by gender since the financial crisis hit in 2008, suggests there’s a supply problem. These roles include front office positions, executive roles and control functions like compliance as well as new analysts who have earned their stripes at investment banks.

The figures suggest that fewer women entered the financial sector last year than at any other point since 2008. In 2015, just 25% of new entrants to the industry were female, compared to 38% in 2008.

It also appears that the number of women entering the financial sector declines as times get tougher. When investment banks cut heavily during 2010, fewer women started out in finance. Meanwhile, last year, as banks struggled with sliding revenues and made deep headcount cuts in the final quarter, the number of women entering the sector was at its lowest proportion in the timeframe we covered.

Globally, the proportion of women working in finance is close to 60%, according to PwC figures quoted in the UK government report.

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