The Global Gender Gap Report of the 2017 World Economic Forum stated: “Female talent remains one of the most underutilized business resources.” In fields such as finance and fintech, this is glaringly clear. In the field of finance, the gap tends to increase drastically as the career levels rise. Take this alarming statistic for example, even though women make up 46% of the financial services workforce, only 15% make up the workforce at the executive level.
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Over here at WealthFace, we are driven towards being very inclusive to women. The firm’s eventual goal in that aspect is to have at least half of its workforce comprise of women. Aside from hiring women in key roles, WealthFace is also driven towards educating women in various financial fields, helping them handle their own finances and nurture an interest towards building a career in the finance and fintech industry. No country can be economically sound if half of its population is not well versed with the world of personal finance and investing. Encouraging a larger number of women to take up roles in the finance and fintech industry isn’t affirmative action, it’s a necessity in today’s world where traditional gender roles are being left behind.
On the occasion of Women’s Day, let’s take a look at some important things to know about women in finance and fintech.
The Pre Existing Gender Gap in Finance Fields Serves as Both a Challenge and an Opportunity
According to Francesca Federico, the co founder and principal of Twelve Points Wealth Management: “It’s no secret that this industry is very male dominated. It’s pretty much an ‘old boys club’ and most men have gotten into this industry because their father or golf buddy or college alumni was in it. I think women have a hard time breaking in because there have never been that many to begin with.”
Twelve Points Wealth Management specializes in providing financial planning for families, individuals and small business owners. The firm creates a “personal planning index” which is specifically designed as per the individual goals and values of each client. While Francesca Federico has been successful in her entrepreneurial endeavour and is quite passionate about her work, she does acknowledge the wide variety of challenges faced by women in finance today.
She said: “Breaking the mold of having to be a middle-aged or older man to get some credibility has been one of my biggest professional challenges.
Having the right outlook however, can transform challenges into opportunities.
According to Keri Gohman, the President of Xero Americas far too many women, including herself waste energy on trying to fit in to an environment that is usually dominated by men. They try to adapt the working practices and mindsets of men. Keri Gohman however, decided to focu on working great, in her own way. Xero Americas is a cloud-based accounting and payroll SaaS provider for small business, According to Gohman: “When you take all of the energy spent on fitting into a narrow box and unleash that on your work — magic happens. When I allowed myself to be the boldest version of myself, I realized I was more willing to take risks, to be more powerful — and my true capacity was unleashed.”
This empowered outlook has enabled Keri to build a thriving career that spans insurance, investing, accounting and banking.
Finance Doesn’t Just Revolve Around Money, Making a Difference Also Matters
For a lot of women in finance fields, their career isn’t just a tool to pay for their mortgages, bills and loans. Francesca Federico said: “I wake up every day with a fire in my belly because I know I am making a difference in the lives of people and families around me.”
These female financial leaders enjoy their work because of the positive impact it can have on individuals, families and businesses. They strive to provide a badly needed support system for people since a majority of the global population struggles to save money efficiently.
According to insurance agency Boomer Benefits’ CEO Danielle Kunkle:“What I love most today about my industry is the opportunity to educate thousands of people every year”. Her firm specializes in medicare-insurance related products and serves clients over a wide variety of areas.
“Our most exciting project to date has been offering free, no-obligation Medicare 101 webinars to the public,” said Danielle. She considers the hoard of thank you emails after her webinars as the “warm fuzzy” that reminds her of the people she is helping and the difference she is making.
Co-founder of Pogo Insurance, Jade Sullivan also believes that her work is making a difference in the lives of people, especially in the lives of small business owners. Pogo Insurance works towards directing small business owners to the right insurance plans online. According to Sullivan, Pogo Insurance is “a commercial insurance aggregator that helps small self-employed businesses find the best insurance with just one form.”
The simplicity is a result of the hard work of Sullivan and her team. Jade said she enjoys the ability to “help other entrepreneurs with one of the more frustrating aspects of having a business.”
Learning is a Constant Process for Finance Professionals
As per most women in the field of finance, altruism isn’t the only motivator. Intellectual stimulation has also played an important role in motivating them through their careers.
The founder and principal of LexION Capital, Elle Kaplan is always driven by her relentless desire for learning new things. Her curiosity and thirst for knowledge is what keeps her engines rolling. She is driven by a “deep-seated intellectual curiosity.” LexION Capital works towards managing cash and assets for families and individuals. On top of that, Kaplan’s firm also manages mission driven non profits and institutions, providing goal based investment management and retirement planning in the process.
Elle Kaplan said: “The markets are impacted by everything, from climate change to politics; no two days are ever alike. It’s always changing and evolving, and it never fails to galvanize me to do my best.”
The CFO of Vishion, Kayce Hunt also shares Elle Kaplan’s thirst for knowledge. Vishion is a personal shopping app which revolves around color choices. According to Hunt, her work is extremely exciting because it provides her with a lot of opportunities to learn new things on a regular basis. Hunt said: “I love the ability to analyze and model data to predict the outcome.”
Kayce Hunt also constantly encourages women interested in a finance career to “gain a broad understanding of the different functions available … so that they can go down the path that interests them most,” similar to Hunt herself. “I cannot wait for how much I will continue to learn as we grow Vishion,” Hunt added.
The Future of Finance Can Be Created by Women
The enterprising and intelligent women in the field of finance are generally never content with just living with the status quo. They are always forging new paths and building their own legacies. of Forbes Finance Council are not content to live with the status quo. They are founding their own businesses, supporting new initiatives and developing a new business culture that works for them. Fracesca Federico said: “we get to create our own brand and do it our way.”
Binna Kim, president and co-founder of Vested, is one of the innovators working to change the industry overall. Vested is an integrated communications company which provides marketing, PR and social media services to financial companies so that they can raise their profile.
Binna Kim said: “With the rise of fintech, both financial institutions and fintech companies were embracing new narratives — and we started a company focused on helping better communicate these stories.”
Keri Gohman meanwhile, is focused on forging the attitude of everyone at her firm, thereby cultivating a positive work culture.
Speaking on the matter, Gohman said:“It’s been impactful creating a culture for my teams where they can be free to bring their unique gifts to the table and be themselves. We’re having a lot more fun — and doing beautiful work.”
Jade Sullivan has also offered some encouraging advice to women looking to make their mark in the world of finance. She said:“Just understand that it takes a lot to change things or to develop a new idea. But it’s worth it.”
A Bright Future Beckons Women In Finance
There’s no denying the fact that a gender gap exists in the financial industry. The gap becomes even more extreme once we analyse the executive levels. However, the women who are currently involved with the finance industry, are blazing a trail for other women to follow. Things are definitely getting better with time. Binna Kim encouraged women to “be unapologetic in fighting for what you deserve. You can have a family and grow your career — don’t feel that you have to choose one or the other.”
Danielle Kunkle gave a very positive summary of her finance career so far. She said: “I’ve been able to start as a solopreneur and grow this agency into a business that helps consumers in 47 states and employs over 30 people. Female producers are some of the highest achievers in this industry. You can go get your license tomorrow and be welcomed with open arms by employers and carriers alike. The future is bright here for women.”