What you need to juggle career and family in finance

Reliable childcare, a supportive partner, and being able to afford to hire help running the household are the three most important factors that enable women to balance family and a successful career, according to the 2017 Women in Finance Survey.

Just 5% of women with children working in European financial services who responded to Financial News’ survey do not have a partner. Of the remaining 95%, three-quarters have partners who work full time, while 8% work part time. Working mothers whose partners run the home counted for almost 12% this year, up from 8.5% in 2016.

Miranda Morad, General Counsel at MarketAxess Europe and Trax, said: “It’s only doable, or it’s certainly much easier to do, in a partnership. I couldn’t have done it without a partner who is supportive. You have to decide whether you’re prepared to accept an unhappy compromise both at work and at home or, as a partnership, find a better way.”

One woman working in trading for more than 20 years and whose husband gave up work to run the household, said: “Without 100% support from my partner I wouldn’t have been able to pursue my career after our child was born.” A senior asset management respondent, whose partner works full time, added: “Income is the most important factor – childcare and household help costs are astronomical.”

When it comes to the workplace, being able to talk to your bosses is crucial to ensuring everyone’s expectations are met, said Keily Blair, a lawyer and a director in PwC’s regulatory and commercial disputes team, who moved in January from focusing on securities litigation in the London office of a US law firm. Blair, a single parent, added: “Having open discussions with the people around you, and the people you report in to, is very important as a way of avoiding any unconscious bias. I think you need to be realistic about what you want, and then build a system around yourself in terms of the support you need.”

Morad said: “For the working mother who wants to progress at work, you need supportive bosses, whether they are male or female. And when I say supportive bosses, I don’t mean bosses who will let you work part-time, I mean bosses who will listen, who will ask how you want it to work, and what you need to make it work.”

The ability to have agile working arrangements was also voted among the survey’s top most important factors when juggling family and a successful career. Subsidised childcare or childcare arrangements made available by employers, were among the least important factors, although the percentage of women valuing them has increased from a year ago.

Blair added: “In my previous role I found that when I asked for flexible working it was offered, but not without consequences for my career progression. I think support in the form of emergency childcare would be great, for when things go wrong and your support system doesn’t work in the way it should, as would being allocated a certain number of emergency childcare days each year.”