Recognise the role of female advisers


On June 30 we will be holding our annual conference at the Commercial Finance Expo in Birmingham.

In a departure from our usual commercial finance-centric subjects one of the topics we will be covering is women in business.

There is some debate around whether this is topic should stand on its own. Some say separating female small and medium-sized enterprise owners or managers from the rest of the SME community smacks of tokenism.

Others believe the way women manage their businesses is different from the way men do, so this part of the community requires different support.

But it’s is a growing sector of the market. The Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey shows that in 2008 28% of the SME owner-manager population was female. And Barclays published research about a year ago which indicated the market was growing.

Female-only starts-ups rose by 9% to more than 90,000 in 2008 compared with 83,000 in 2007. In contrast, male-only start-ups showed a rise of less than 1%, to 300,000.

Interestingly, female commercial finance brokers only make up around 10% of the NACFB membership. I suspect that in both the IFA and residential mortgage markets the percentage is higher.

Commercial finance is traditionally a male environment and the association has never offered female-focussed events. But if the differences are sometimes stronger than the similarities it is something to consider.