Women in FinTech – Observations from the Trenches

The plaque below this powerful statue states "Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.” The statue was installed on March 7, 2017—the day before International Women's Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

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International Women’s Day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality. (To learn more about International Women’s Day, visit the official website here.)

International Women’s Day is particularly important for the SmartBiz Loans team. SmartBiz Loans operates in the fintech (financial technology) industry. Typically dominated by men, SmartBiz is working to turn that around by hiring women for key roles and nurturing them as they grow their career. Others in fintech are stepping up as well.

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As the quote says, “Behind every successful woman, is a tribe of other successful women that have her back.”

There are multiple meet-ups and other networking events tailored to women in fintech and women are increasingly taking on leading roles in the industry.

Madhvi Mavadiya, a reporter for the leading fintech publication Finextra, recently interviewed top women in fintech for Forbes to get their feelings on the industry. Here are highlights.

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Monica Kalia, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Neyber

Fintech is a new and exciting industry that provides the perfect blank slate for us to do away with the “boys club” image that has become associated with the traditional financial services industry. It allows women (and men) to demonstrate their success solely based on merit.

As a female entrepreneur in this industry and a mother of three young children, it’s an exhilarating challenge to prove that it can be done.

My own role in this industry, and that of my peers, is to ensure that hard-work and talent is recognized and respected regardless of gender, it’s a lesson I’ll be passing onto my own children.

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Diana Biggs, Head of Digital Innovation, UK & Europe, HSBC

...with an increasing number of studies highlighting the business benefits of diversity, for teams, leadership, boards, I’m optimistic that improving diversity in fintech is starting to get some genuine focus, rather than just lip service.

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Sophie Guibaud, Managing Director Europe, Fidor Group

The sector I worked in previously was finance which is not a very diversified sector. Fintech is definitely more diversified than the financial industry itself. However, quite a lot can and needs to be done on that front, not only at the company level to actually attract, promote and retain the right people, irrelevant of gender, color or personal situations but also much more upfront, early on during education with initiatives such as the Charity I Can Be, bringing little girls into the “world of work”, supported by fintech icon Louise Beaumont.

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Viola Llewellyn, Co-Founder & President, Ovamba Solutions

We have seen disruption in travel, broadcast, healthcare, communications and even transportation. I have worked in some of these sectors. In comparison, fintech is one of the hardest within which to establish clear diversity. We are talking about long standing traditions that male dominated banks have held in their grip for so long.

The lack of diversity in finance is actually at the heart of some of the algorithms and the profit models! Diversity of gender, color, age, and geographic region all stand to be slighted and excluded for reasons that are institutional and easy to enforce, justify and uphold.

Fintech demands a focused acknowledgment of this challenge and a creative effort to satisfy customer demand and curate the best technologies and models to provide a customer experience that is positive and monetizable. Without this all who are excluded and underserved could very well stay in that condition.

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Vica Manos, VC, Anthemis Group

Coming for an investment banking background, I’d have to say that the issues around diversity are generally the same. However, at a systemic level it remains challenging to appoint women to senior positions simply because by that point in time they have left to other industries, mostly because of work-life balance considerations. Still, the progress made to date, however modest, remains notable in my view.

To read the full article and hear from other female fintech leaders, visit the Forbes website: Women In Fintech: Reshaping The Industry For The Underrepresented.

 

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