Online banking businessman using smartphone with credit card Fintech and Blockchain concept

Championing women in fintech 

Online banking businessman using smartphone with credit card Fintech and Blockchain concept

Article by Rosie McConnell, Head of Product at IFX Payments 

Whilst FinTech as an industry is often viewed as a beacon of progression, the reality is that even at a time where gender equality and the advancement of female talent is top of most business agendas, the stats show a different image.

Reports revealed that less than 30% of the employee base is made up of women, with less than 20% of them occupying executive positions, and fewer than 5% are CEO’s.

So whilst FinTech businesses are undoubtedly transforming the financial services sector, and the future of many consumer experiences such as online banking and payments, it is clear that as a sector there is a lot of work to do on the gender equality front.

Looking back over my ten year career in the Fintech sector, at every step, female role models have played a key part in my development. In my first role I worked under both a female manager and COO who were pivotal in helping me navigate the workplace, my career and the industry, whilst teaching me to maintain authenticity and find ways to put my own mark on the work we were doing.

This level of support and female-led mentorship set me up for success by giving me a strong foundation and resilience to continue pushing boundaries and to recognise the unique value that I could bring to my role. I strongly believe that positive advocacy, female C-suite representation and effective mentorship, can move the needle and help FinTechs retain, champion and cultivate female talent.

But before we can really start making a change, we’ve got to try to pinpoint why even amidst the massive focus on advancing gender diversity, the problem still exists. We’ve seen that the number of women in Fintech has remained low whilst the industry has only continued to grow.

Something that has come up repeatedly is that for many women, a career in Fintech means making difficult prioritisation decisions in other areas of life. Something that I took from my female mentors was that for them, whilst pursuing their professional successes, a consideration always had to be made as to how to juggle work and home duties and overcome personal barricades that perhaps their male counterparts had not experienced.

In particular, the discourse surrounding working women having children often remains largely negative and, as such, a moment in my career that I found particularly profound was when a speaker at a conference openly encouraged those of us in the crowd to have children. It was inspirational to hear the positives rather than the hindrance motherhood presents, highlighting how it can make you a better decision maker, more focussed and generally able to prioritise more as your time becomes more valuable. But speaking positively about women balancing a family and a career should be the norm, not an exception.

As employers we should endeavour to make this balance easy, especially within financial services careers which have historically made it difficult. We need to see changes to policies which allow greater flexibility and acceptance of blended working so that female employees not only feel included, but championed, something which hopefully the pandemic has kickstarted.

That being said, encouraging women to pursue careers in Fintech should not be about preferential treatment or a driving force for male-critical discourse to take place. Rather a cultural and a mindset change that is flexible, creative and inclusive.

I will forever be grateful for the guidance and support I received early in my career and now in my role as head of product at IFX. And whilst there is no quick-fix to boosting the number of women in FinTech, it is important to remember that cognitive diversity not only in gender, but personality types, backgrounds, ages, race, ultimately encourages better teams and as a result better products.

Rosie McConnellAbout the author

In her role as the Head of Product at IFX, Rosie McConnell is responsible for establishing the deliverables and objectives for IFX’s product offering. With over 10 years of experience in the Fintech sector, Rosie plays a key role in defining and prioritizing product roadmaps for IFX as well as taking ownership for product development and the technological innovation of IFX.

Rosie is a passionate champion of value-led change in an industry that is predominantly dominated by men, through helping to advance the Women in Fintech agenda as well as working towards  maintaining a cognitively biased team which relies on people from all backgrounds and experiences working together.