Professor believes religion and race bar entry to financial industry
A university professor believes race and religious beliefs act as a barrier to working as advisers, bankers and within other professions in the financial industry.
Roszaini Haniffa, professor of accounting at Bradford University’s School of Management said: “Many ethnic minority communities, where religious beliefs are often stronger, battle with the underlying ethics within the financial industry.
“Traditionally some Muslims do not enter the financial industry because they have to deal with interest, which is against Islamic law.
“Even the increase in Sharia-compliant products has not really made a difference because the reality is that these are not always 100 per cent in line with Islamic teachings.
“But even Christians and other religious groups shy away from the industry because they feel they have to be flexible with their principles and, especially after the financial crisis, it is not deemed as a respectable industry.”
Keith Richards, group distribution and development director for national network Tenet Group, said that the adviser industry has also lacked workers from a black and Asian background.
Mr Richards added: “It is certainly true that the advice sector has not attracted any meaningful numbers of black or Asian people over the past decade and, perhaps, without an increase in black or Asian advisers we are unlikely to build confidence in the industry within their communities.”
This point was also noted in the Business in the Community’s 25-page report, Race and the Professions: Aspiration and Frustration. The document said strong religious beliefs among ethnic minority groups had prevented workers from entering the finance industry.
The report highlighted other problems, such as the lack of role models, difficulty in climbing up the career ladder, a lack of links with schools and universities and little understanding of cultural barriers.
Sandra Kerr, national director of the Race for Opportunity campaign for Business in the Community, said: “It is a sad fact of modern-day Britain that the workplace is not as ethnically diverse as the society in which we live.
“Ethnic minority workers have high aspirations for finding and forging a sustainable career and that they have a strong work ethic.
“However this aspiration and exertion seems to be frustrated at the office door. Some professions, especially those that offer the best pay, are still not perceived as genuine career options.”
The Financial Services Skills Council is working to tackle this problem by working more closely with schools, colleges and parents to encourage more work experience, apprenticeships and other mentoring schemes for those from a minority or religious background.