Do You Need To Be A Man To Get On In Financial Services?
I received quite a few responses to my blog post on whether you need a degree to get into financial services, all positive thankfully. Some of those observations did spark a number of thoughts, not least of which was an update called ‘do you need to be a man to get on in financial services?’ Sounds like a very emotive title I know, but the answer again is, to my mind, unequivocally no.
Financial services, like several other industries, has a history and popular conception of being ‘male dominated’, but we need to be careful in what we mean by this. Do we mean dominated as in ‘over 50% of the total by number’ or do we mean dominated as in ‘the board is controlled by’ or do we mean the CEO is a man. The numbers themselves don’t tell you anything and ‘domination’ is an emotive and not very helpful descriptor. In leading my own company I always stress my definition of a company as a group of people working together towards a common goal. Everyone has a contribution to make. In financial services there is no real reason that any particular job should be more suited to a woman than a man or vice versa. At that level, financial services should be indifferent to gender, if not in the past, then certainly in the future.
In most discussions the issue of ‘succeeding in financial services’ is measured by how far you can get up the chain (even though I’d personally put far more emphasis on finding roles that are fun, interesting and engage my intellect – and they are not always at the top). However, if you want examples of women as role models in financial services, I give you – Monica Singer, CEO of the South African CSD Strate; Karla McKenna, newly installed Head of Standards at the Global Legal Identity Foundation and globally recognised guru on ISO standards; Jessie Munger, Head of HR at GlobeTax; Maria Krasnova, Deputy Chairperson at the Russian National Depository; and Diana Chan CEO of EuroCCP. All these women are phenomenal at their jobs and I’ve got a lot of time for them and how they approach their businesses and the industry. The challenges the industry is facing are, in some cases, potentially existential – i.e. we’ll either meet those challenges or the industry will be changed almost beyond recognition. Either way, we will need people like this.
Now if any of these inspiring women reads this blog, I’d ask them to perhaps think about sharing their thoughts on how they got where they are today, what challenges they faced and overcame, and what they’d say to young people, many of whom won’t even know about many of the roles available in the financial services sector. I would be interested to hear their experiences and views on this issue.
In my own company 66% of the board are women and 57% of the company as a whole are women. But you know something? I had to think about it to get those numbers. Why? Because I’ve built a training and consultancy business (TConsult Ltd) in which I don’t need to think about whether a person is male or female as I’m doing my job. So, do you need to be a man to be successful in financial services? No. We’re all ‘people’ and the respect we show each other and the jobs that we get and do are based on education, aptitude, skills, experience, intelligence and most of all passion and enthusiasm. None of these characteristics are gender based.
Image Credit: Bureau of IIP
Ross McGill is the CEO and subject matter expert for TConsult. Ross is a specialist in QI and FATCA operational compliance, cross border tax reclaims, relief at source and information reporting. He over 23 years of experience in financial services, including 19 years at C level; and 30 years’ senior management experience in blue chip FMCG, including sales, marketing and operations.