Verona Kenny has had a very successful 20-year career in platforms in Australia and the UK and, here, the Women in Financial Advice Award winner imparts to Professional Adviser some wise words for women – and men – in finance.

The 7IM platform boss worked in platforms down under for eight years before moving to the UK. After working at Cofunds until L&G bought the platform, Kenny has since been at 7IM where she has been head of platform for the last five years.

In October of last year, she picked up the Woman of the Year – Platforms gong at Professional Adviser’s inaugural Women in Financial Advice Awards.

After moving to the other side of the world to continue her career in the UK, Kenny says the biggest challenge of the move has been acclimatising to how indirect the English can be.

“Australians can be very direct and English people not so much,” she explains.

“And I’m pretty direct anyway. It’s the same as if you work in any other country – there are always going to be differences. They are not huge – just small differences like how direct you can be.”

“What I found when I first came here was how far behind the Australian market the UK was in terms of wraps and platforms – but then how quickly it has caught up and, dare I say, overtaken that market.”

Picking an example, she adds: “A lot of the things we were working on when I first came here were things I worked on in Australia five to eight years before, like turning a fund supermarket into a wrap platform, introducing the cash account, introducing the capability to deduct adviser fees, moving to a platform fee, and all those kinds of things.”

While the working parent wishes she had more hours in the day to spend the time she needs with her big team at work and her family at home, Kenny says her strategy with professional and personal demands has helped her cope over the years.

“It’s like all working parents,” she muses. “Whether you’re a mum or a dad or anything, for me, when I’m working I am 110% working but when I’m with my son then I’m not working at all.

“You have to have your undivided attention on whatever you are doing at the time. I do my emails after my son goes to bed, for example, so when I am with him it is all about him.”

Taken separately, technology and finance are two of the worst professions for female participation. Platforms are a rare amalgamation of the two and, not unexpectedly perhaps, have a low proportion of women working in the sector.

Having worked in platforms for more than 20 years, Kenny says the lack of women is certainly noticeable. “I don’t think the lack of women is a barrier,” she says. “There are just not as many women.

“So sometimes you just feel you’re the only woman in the room – because you are – but I don’t think that’s been a barrier. Because I’m direct, I say what I think.”

Asked to offer the benefits of her experience to other women in finance, she says: “I would just say don’t class yourself as a female – class yourself as the professional person that you want to be. That is so important. Don’t let any of that hold you back – and absolutely say what you think.”

This is reproduced from Professional Adviser; all views are from the publication. This originally appeared online on 28 February 2019.