Millennials ignored by UK’s financial institutions as boards stumble towards gerontocracy
The boards of banks, asset managers and fintechs are outstripping their European rivals at female representation, but failing to take on any millennials, according to new research.
EY’s report found that there were no board members under 40 in any of the UK’s top financial services firms.
The report on board diversity shows that in 2022 more than half (58 per cent) of board appointments in UK banks, asset managers, fintechs, and insurance companies were women, compared to just 50 per cent of their European rivals.
The high levels of appointments of female board members, meant the UK took a slight lead over the rest of Europe, with women making up 43 per cent of UK board members compared to 42 per cent of European ones.
The insurance sector had the greatest gender diversity, according to the EY survey of 300 UK and European financial sector companies; the poll showed 43 per cent of insurance firm board members are female, compared to just 41 per cent on UK bank’s boards.
UK financial services firms however lagged behind French and German ones in promoting younger board members. The report showed there was not a single board member under the age of 40 in any UK financial services firm monitored by EY.
By contrast, more than one-fifth (22 per cent) of French financial services companies and a third of German ones had at least one board members under the age of 40.
At the European level, 10 per cent of financial services firms had an under-40 on their boards, with one-fifth of those appointments made over the previous year.
In the UK, the average man sitting on the board of a financial services company is 61, while the average female board member is 58, EY’s research shows. In Europe, the average male board member is 60 while the average female executive is 57.
The report however shows that the UK is not alone in its lack of under-40 board members, as it notes Finland, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands are in the same position.
Anna Anthony, EY’s UK financial services managing partner, said: “Leaders across the financial sector are responding to the need for change, increasingly viewing diversity as a strategic priority.”
“Given the role that diverse views, backgrounds and experience plays in identifying and responding to risks and in creating the challenge culture requisite to effective boards, we expect to see boards ramp up their focus on age and cultural diversity over the coming months.”