Nucleus hosts panel of inspiring women to discuss the importance of fostering inclusivity in the workplace

Nucleus hosted a panel discussion last week entitled ‘Inspiring Inclusion’, bringing together experts from across the industry to share stories of their own career journeys, and discuss the importance of building inclusive workplaces and attracting a more diverse pool of talent into our industry.

The panel session was hosted by Mike Regan, Nucleus’ Chief Commercial Officer and executive sponsor of its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion network. It was one of a series of events the platform has hosted recently to recognise the importance of inclusion.

The panel included:

  • Heather Hopkins, Founder and MD of NextWealth
  • Philippa Hann, Consultant, NED. speaker and coach
  • Cathi Harrison, CEO, The Verve Group
  • Jenny Thorpe, Chief Transformation Officer, Nucleus 

The discussion was wide ranging and covered the importance of fostering diversity and inclusion, the progress we’ve made as an industry and what more can be done.

Why is inspiring inclusion and creating an inclusive environment important?

Heather Hopkins said: “I think the key for me is that its good for business and there’s lots of evidence to support that. There are so many different characteristics of diversity that are important. We have an opportunity to reach a much wider population by fostering inclusivity but if we don’t look diverse, we won’t be able to attract a diverse range of people into our industry.”

Phillippa Hann said: “I’m not sure that I am determined to create an inclusive environment but what I am obsessed with is running good businesses. When I look at running a really good business, I ask myself - how do I create a really great workplace, how do I ensure that we make the best decisions that aren’t infected with group think, that we aren’t creating a workplace for only one type of person but one where anyone can be successful? And the answer to that happens to be an inclusive workplace.”

Cathi Harrison said: “We all know how important good financial planning advice is for people but if there isn’t an industry that feels inclusive where individuals can see people that reflect themselves and that they feel comfortable going to and getting financial advice from then I think we’re doing the general public a disservice.”

Jenny Thorpe said: “There’s all sorts of research about problem solving and how you get a much better outcome from bringing together a different mix of people who think in different ways. And then there’s the simple fact that we spend so much of our time at work, so if you can bring your own self to work, in a workplace that is diverse and inclusive, that just makes for a much better working environment for colleagues.”

Over your own careers what do you think have been the positive changes and the things that have made a real difference?

Heather Hopkins said: “What the data tells us are that, in the under 45 age category, 27% financial advisers are female but in the over 45 demographic that falls to 9%. So, while there’s still lots to do, we are seeing progress. In my working life the main change I’ve seen is the emergence of female forums and networks. The data shows that women who progress further in their careers tend to be better connected, not just across their industry but they also have strong ties to other female peers.”

Cathi Harrison said: “I think the whole ecosystem has changed. From things like Women in Finance awards to networking events, connections are possible now that simply weren’t there before. Take for example the Women in Platform events - just walking into a room full of smart, successful people that all happen to be women was something that didn’t happen 15 years ago when I first started out. However, I definitely want to be clear that there’s still a lot more we need to do.”

Jenny Thorpe said: “What has made a difference to me over my working life is sponsorship and I think it’s so important to have people who are part of your network who are championing you. I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from that during my career. And for us now as leaders, we have a role and a responsibility to connect people and bring them into the right conversations or projects and to really understand our teams and how different individuals want to develop their careers.”

Philippa Hann said: “I totally agree on the importance of sponsorship and networks. I think my call to action today is, as people who have all experienced the positive benefit of our network and were fortunate to have benefited from people who championed us at different stages in our careers, we have an obligation to keep this going. We need to be doing that for other people, taking people to meetings, giving them some of our time and listening to them. One of the most important things for me is the power of really good 1:1’s.”

What more do we need to do? The key takeaways from our panel were:

  • There will be many people across the industry thinking I don’t see a hugely diverse range of applicants applying for jobs when I go out to look for people so how do we help change that.
  • We should be doing more to promote financial planning as a career. We haven’t done a good enough job in going out and telling people about the fantastic career opportunities within our industry.
  • How do we work better to find people with potential who would not otherwise have considered a career in financial planning or in the many other interesting roles within our industry.

Commenting on the discussion, Mike Regan, Chief Commercial officer at Nucleus, said: “It was a privilege to speak to four inspiring women and role models and to hear from them on their own career journeys and on the importance of creating workplaces that are truly inclusive.

“We know that seeking out diverse talent and creating an inclusive workplace is not only the right thing to do but will help us to thrive as a business. We want to build an inclusive organisation where our people are representative of advisers, customers and the communities in which we operate.

“It’s clear to me that, while a great deal of progress has been made, that there is still a lot more that needs to be done to ensure we are attracting a more diverse group of people into our industry.

“That’s why we are doing things like supporting the Verve’s ‘We Are Change’ programme to encourage more women to become advisers and play our part in tackling the diversity gap in the advice sector.”

Nucleus has created four employee-led networks: LGBTQ+, Culture and Ethnic Diversity, Disability & Health and Women at Nucleus. The networks are responsible for raising awareness, building community and advocating for change across the business.

Mike Regan added: “It’s important that our employee-led networks help drive our actions and policy on ED&I. We didn’t want to sit in a darkened room with a group of senior people and say we know all the answers. Our teams and our people will guide us on this and help us find the right solutions.”



Linda Harper
Head of Public Relations - Nucleus Financial Platforms group
T: +44 (0) 7876 145309

Notes to editors:

About the panel

Philippa Hann 
Philippa is a dual qualified solicitor and financial adviser. For 20 years she specialised in financial services law and until recently was on the board of Clarke Willmott Solicitors where she managed the litigation division with over 100 lawyers. Philippa is currently Head of Solicitor Engagement at RQ ratings and a Non-Executive Director at Paradigm Norton Financial Planning and Nicholls Stevens Financial Services.
Cathi Harrison 
CEO and founder of the Verve Group. With a passion for financial services and for breaking the mould, Cathy uses her extensive experience, knowledge and qualifications to keep pushing new boundaries in a quest to help the industry evolve.
Heather Hopkins
In a career spanning Toronto, Boston, Tokyo and London, Heather Hopkins is a data and research expert specialising in the UK financial adviser and retail wealth management markets. Heather is the Managing Director and Founder of NextWealth. She is also on the board of the Mercantile Investment Trust and Orbis Investments UK.
Jenny Thorpe 
Jenny is the Chief Technology Officer and chair of the Nucleus ED&I network. Prior to joining Nucleus, Jenny was an Associate Director at Alpha FMC, delivering a range of initiatives for leading platforms and held various roles across transformation, IT strategy and architecture at Aegon and Alliance Trust.

About Nucleus

The Nucleus Financial Platforms group offers investment platforms and products exclusively to financial advisers, that ultimately help make retirement more rewarding. 
Renowned for its SIPP expertise, James Hay Partnership has been working with larger financial advisory groups for more than 40 years, providing the means to administer pensions, savings and investments in a cost and tax efficient way. 
Our award-winning platform Nucleus was founded in 2006 by advisers committed to altering the balance of power in the industry by putting the customer centre stage.
Curtis Banks is one of the UK’s largest administrators of SIPP and SSAS solutions for customers and businesses. It is one of Europe’s largest commercial property landlords, a specialist area for self-invested pensions. The business maintains a focus on providing high levels of technical support, robust service, modern technology and innovation. 
Together we’re one of the UK’s leading, independent, adviser platform and product groups, with approximately £83 billion in assets under administration, helping nearly 5,000 advisers make retirement more rewarding for almost 250,000 customers.
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