Females focusing on Fintech
On International Women’s Day, Barclaycard is looking at the female role models working in fintech
Recognised for challenging the status quo, fintech has the ability to make financial services more accessible to people from all walks of life.
Attracting diverse talent is an important consideration for every business. As we mark International Women’s Day 2019, we explore some of the females shaking up fintech, the key themes for women as both innovators and consumers, and the tech being created by women, for women.
Encouraging more women to work in fintech
While fintech is more diverse than other industries, women are still in the minority; a 2017 study found that less than 30 per cent of the UK’s fintech workforce were female. Ania Kubow, Account Executive at Nimbla, a startup that offers invoice insurance and aims to support small business growth by tackling non-payment of invoices:
“We know that only 13 per cent of the Financial Conduct Authority’s registered individuals are women. Combine that with the stats in tech, and you can imagine how rare it is to see a woman in a fintech role in the UK.”
Leaders in the UK
As a global leader in fintech, London is one of the most bustling ecosystems in the world. According to a 2017 report from Her Majesty’s Treasury, fintech contributes £6.6 billion annually to the UK economy, employing 60,000 people in 1,600 companies.
From research and thought leadership to apps and finance tools designed by women for women, British women are disrupting within the industry at every level. As women become a driving force for fintech, increased diversity enables more new ideas to flourish. There is a new generation of fintech innovators evolving around the needs of women.
One example is Rainchq, a new finance app that connects women with financial advisors and educational tools tailored to their needs. Such fintechs aim to close the “gender investing gap”, where men and women often take different approaches to money and finance. Research shows women tend to focus more on long-term goals and are more naturally cautious as investors. It makes sense, therefore, that we are seeing a new generation of fintech innovations evolving around the needs of women. Other financial innovations aimed at women include an Instagram-friendly savings app and a pocket financial coach.
Managing Director in Barclaycard Commercial Payments, Maria Parpou said:
“It’s not just a question of women needing their own apps; it’s about frictionless usability and enlightened journeys that empower audiences to streamline the services they use every day. Here we have a group of like-minded people with relevant, exciting ideas to move the industry forward.”
Women in the fintech industry report overwhelmingly positive experiences. Head of Engineering in Barclaycard Payment Solutions, Halleh Koohestani had this to say about the trajectory of her career:
“Working environments have changed a lot. I have had a lot of support and have been lucky to work with many inspirational male and female role models both at Barclaycard and in my previous roles. This is such a positive, diverse environment and I am pleased to say that there are now significantly more women in IT and developer roles than when I started my career 25 years ago. You have the support of your colleagues, male and female, to really go for it, and a world of opportunity.”
The bigger picture
All around the world, women are coming up with bold and innovative solutions to help tackle pertinent themes and issues. For example, in Australia there is a financial empowerment app to help women who are victims of domestic violence; in Canada a female run blockchain hackathon encouraging more women to get into blockchain and in Kenya, M-Pesa is looking at simple handsets to overcome the financial exclusion gender gap.
But how do we sustain and channel this through fintech? The consensus among women in the industry seems to be a continued focus breaking down stereotypes, and inspiring intrigue and passion in the next generation. Halleh Koohestani recalls the success of a recent ‘Girls in Tech’ day hosted by the Fleet Diversity and Inclusion committee for Year 9 girls from local schools:
“Working in tech isn’t just about writing code; there are plenty of areas and roles to explore. We had fantastic feedback from the girls, I love being in a business that encourages diversity through activities like this.”
Co-founder of Barclaycard Payment Solutions’ partner Flux, Veronique Merriam Barbosa agrees with this sentiment:
“There can be a perception that women don’t have the confidence to progress, but honestly, I think it’s more of an awareness issue. Working in fintech is exceptionally exciting and very rewarding. There is the need to get people thinking about this career route earlier rather than perhaps falling into it; careers in fintech don’t always have to be technical. Choices and awareness will give more girls the confidence to do something different.”
So where next? A woman on every startup board, as suggested by Google’s Sukhinder Singh, Cassidy’s thought leadership events, and initiatives like the Women in Fintech contribute, but perhaps one of the most important factors is men and women working together to shape the future of fintech; as leaders, entrepreneurs and strategists. Ania Kubow says:
“By owning your position of uniqueness within an organisation, you become a role model for young boys and girls in similar positions which is really powerful. The more women in fintech, the more young people will be inspired to be part of the next generation involved in this exciting space.”
Continued support for and celebration of female presence and leadership in the fintech space in turn fosters a community that recruits and functions more diversely and encouraging young boys and girls to follow their passions in technology.