To celebrate this years’ Women in FinTech day held internationally on Thursday, 15th August, Phoebe Aspinall of Transform Finance highlights numerous achievements for women in the industry to date…

Raiha Buchanan and Sarah Kok debuted the first episode of their podcast series, which aims to achieve a higher gender balance in FinTech in Sweden and internationally, after a successful launch event on May 13th in Stockholm. The Women in Fintech Network (WIFTN) podcast was created to shine a light on the lack of gender diversity amongst the FinTech community, and to give other female FinTech professionals a platform of support.

The first episode, “How Did You Get into FinTech?” centred around the need for more female representation in the community, with shared ambitions for the future, as well as ways in which more diversity can be obtained in such a male-dominant field. Since the initial launch, Raiha and Sarah have welcomed the likes of Anna Maj, Fintech leader at PWC; Su Yin Ong of Nordea and award winning Laura Oliva of eKuota.

Raiha, founder of Women in FinTech in 2019 and CMO at Instantor, had this to say: “Our motivation to start “Women in Fintech” was that, as women in FinTech we have been searching for a clear platform for women to support each other in the industry for years, and we didn’t find one, so we decided to start one ourselves. At our launch event, so many women came to us and told us how important this is and how they have been needing this kind of support from each other; they were wondering why somebody hadn’t already done it.”

In addition to hosting the podcast, Sarah regularly contributes to the ongoing progress within the community, is branding manager at Instantor and was a speaker at The Stockholm FinTech Week in February 2019. Sarah summed up the launch with “This will be a space for experienced voices as well as for newcomers who have a fresh perspective into the industry.”

Another fantastic female lead event, is the RegTech Women seminar which was held in London on 27th February 2019. Described as a “professional women’s network that promotes and enhances the vital role women play in driving success”, the launch event was supported by Lucy Heavens, an advisory board member of RegTech Women, and founder Sian Lewin (The Reg Doctor) who provided some interesting and revealing statistics about female participation in the UK workforce:

  • Women hold 23.6% of board roles in the FTSE 350
  • Between 2014 and 2017, there was an increase of 1.8% of women in senior roles in finance (FT research)
  • 29% of the FinTech sector comprises of women, however participation of female executives in is 8% two years ago, £5.7bn was invested in UK businesses with female founders whereas 30% of UK investment teams are women.

Although the above statistics provide a stark snapshot into the inequality that women still face, Diana Paredes, CEO & Co founder of Suade Labs and Executive Board Member for IRTA, commented at the event that there is a more significant matter that ought to be addressed,

“I believe the biggest hindrance for not just women in FinTech, but more broadly in all professional sectors, is the lack of infrastructure for working mothers and childcare. It is wishful thinking to expect women to be well represented in the FinTech workforce or any workforce until that is resolved. It’s the elephant in the room in most of these conversations.”

Also speaking candidly on her journey into FinTech in London was Julie Watts, Director of Operations at Kurtosys, who advised

“My recommendation is to ask questions, speak up, and challenge others and yourself. Yes, I have experienced mansplaining, I have been interrupted, and I have had to wait for my turn to speak as others talked over each other. Find your own style, but always make sure you speak up confidently and get your point across.”

In a recent Forbes article Madhvi Mavadiya gave her thoughts after attending Innovate Finance’s Women in FinTech Powerlist launch, where she shared some of her past experiences when she was undermined based on her gender, age and even race:

“Don’t get me wrong, people continue to be prejudiced in FinTech. Last month, I was asked how old I was, all the answers to my interview questions were directed to my white colleague – even though I was the one asking them – and, a lady grabbed my leg during a panel session and scolded me for typing too loudly…”

As disappointing and shocking as these accounts are, Madhvi goes on to say…

“While those memories are still fresh, I would say that things are a little different now. Instead of all white, male panels – with a female moderator at the end, just for luck – we’re seeing a number of minority women, and men, being recognised for their expertise.”

As a prolific editorial voice on the matter, Madhvi has produced this excellent article for Forbes wherein common challenges for women in the workplace are shared. For instance, Diana Biggs, Head of Digital Innovation at HSBC cites imposter syndrome and securing investment being an issue. In the same article, Valentina Kristensen, Director, Growth & Communications at OakNorth, shares her experience of some ladies she respects and believes in to be excellent speakers, but that they were mostly unwilling to take advantage of such opportunities for fear of being judged.

On a more positive note though, it is great to see that the current profile of women in the financial technology arena represents a far more engaged congregation, as these findings from the LATTICE80 Top 100 Women in FinTech list produced some interesting insights…

44 women hold key management positions in FinTech and Blockchain startups around the world as follows:

stats for women in fintech

In addition to the above international reach, The Fintech Ladies was launched in 2016 in Berlin by Christine Kiefer, entrepreneur and member of the Fintech Council of the German Ministry of Finance. 

This network of female empowerment focused women aims “to shape the future of finance” and now operates in numerous locations across Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Belgium for those working in FinTech startups, banks, law firms, financial services and consulting. 

Christine represents just another great example of how women can pave the way in a traditionally male dominated industry and regularly speaks on such matters, as this recent Twitter post demonstrates:

 

twitter graph

For UK representation, you can find out more about leading ladies of the FinTech scene in London via this Business Insider article.

Fortunately, there are now plenty of resources that showcase notable Women in FinTech, for instance such as Stephanie Deeble at Starling Bank; Duena Blomstom and Andréa Toucinho, who are heralded in The FT Founders’ 50 feature in The Financial Technologist amongst:

  • Kristina Bruhahn, COO of AI-powered app CoinGenius by Genius XV – who’s experience with Fortune 500 companies gives her a landscape vision of how organisations should innovate.
  • Sophia Grami, CEO & Co-Founder at blockchain-driven platform Synswap – who joined following a few years with BNP Paribas and Societe Generale and is in constant discussion with regulators all over the world to assist banks in their compliance and regulatory requirements.
  • Yasmeen Jaffer, COO at JJCFintech – who in 2006 was inspired by the lack of ladies in FinTech to develop a career in the space and to become on of the few women to hold a senior role at the time and set a benchmark for other aspirational women

The fight against prejudice in the FinTech industry is being championed by so many strong and inspiring women and we continue to throw our support behind them too.
In our forthcoming events focused on AML, KYC, FinCrime and Regulatory Reporting Innovation, we will be welcoming these Women in FinTech to London and Frankfurt:

We are also proud to have had these excellent speakers at our events last Spring:

  • Ionela Emmett, VP – AML Monitoring & Investigations at Commerzbank
  • Caroline Kennedy, Head of Financial Crime Control Operations – Corporate Banking at Santander
  • Dr. Jacqui Taylor, Top Ten Global IoT Innovator, Futurist and International Web Scientist

You can find more details on the influential women we are proud to work alongside as Advisory Board Members and speakers at https://finance.transformindustries.com