Females in Fintech
Happy International Women’s Day!
The day dedicated to celebrating women’s achievements in social, economic, cultural, and political spheres while lobbying for awareness of and to accelerate gender parity and women’s rights.
And today at Fido MS we’re going to do just that. We’re going to celebrate the amazing women leading the way in fintech and highlight the continuing disparity between male and female roles and opportunities in the industry.
While there are notable women with incredible achievements under their belt, in the UK around 35% of the fintech workforce are female, only 22% of leadership positions in fintech are held by women, 17% of fintech companies have female founders and a tiny 3% of venture capital funding is received by women in the sector.
Why is this? Women have long been underrepresented in Financial Services and STEM so with fintech being the love child of the two it (unfortunately) can be expected to see the same pattern of under representation in the sector.
“It is important to represent and be seen as an example of someone who doesn’t have the typical start-up background, but who is doing it. I think a lot of people would love a career as an entrepreneur or at a start-up, but never see anyone who looks like them doing it.”
Eva Wong, Co-founder of Borrowell
The 2019 Alison Rose Review reported that only 1/3 of British entrepreneurs were female and that female-led businesses are only 44% of the size of male-led businesses on average, in terms of their contribution to the economy. In 2020, female founded fintechs accounted for just 17% of the UK’s total fintech venture capital investments, however that was a 6% increase on 2019. Forbes found that female entrepreneurs generate 20% more revenue despite receiving 50% less venture capital funding, and women are 20% less likely to win endorsement for their ideas according to a Harvard Business Review study.
But times are changing with government backing and big names speaking out about the importance of a diversified workforce. With more emphasis being put on getting young women into STEM, finance and fintech roles through education, more women taking on C-suite roles in the industry and a spotlight being shone on how little financial aid and venture capital female founded business receive, culture change will filter from the top down and build from the bottom up. Louise O’Shea, CEO of Confused.com, recently championed new mums in the workplace as “formidable” and “assets” in a BBC interview that is a comforting step towards breaking the stigma of young women being high risk employees in case they have children, especially in competitive, fast-paced industries.
“If we only have a small group of people who look and think alike creating the financial services of the future, it’s likely those products will only fit the needs of people similar to them.”
Cristina Junqueira, Co-founder – Nubank, Brazil
This disparity needs to change for everyone’s benefit. According to a Credit Suisse Research Institute, companies with at least one woman on the board had a 26% better performance than companies with male-only boards and in fintech the returns for investors were 113% higher from female founded or co-founded companies. But it’s not all about money – fintech is a new and innovative world that is changing the playing field. In order to keep being cutting edge and relevant, companies must diversify their leaders and decision makers to ensure diverse perspectives. Women are also more likely to have moral ideals driving their business venture – a valuable asset in an age when consumers expect more than a just a product or service.
This goes past women as well – LGBTQ+, different cultures and races also bring a wealth of merits to a world dominated by white, straight men (most data found in researching this article compared women to straight, white men as the measuring stick).
Here are our 3 favourite female movers and shakers making a real difference in fintech…
Founder and CEO of Starling Bank, Anne Boden has been revolutionising the way UK consumers manage their finances with mobile banking since 2014. Voted Best British Bank for three years running and Which? recommended provider for current accounts in 2020, Starling places an emphasis on inclusivity, responsible banking and fair treatment of its customers. Before Starling, Anne had a distinguished 30-year career working at some of the world’s best-known financial heavyweights and was awarded an MBE for her services to fintech in 2018.
Born in Kenya, she immigrated to the Netherlands in 2008 and spent 10 years working in fintech before focussing on her own endeavours. In the last three years she’s founded:
- European Women Payments Network (EWPN) – a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to building a community for women in cards, fintech & payments in Europe,
- African Women in Fintech & Payments (AWFP) – a similar network for women based in Africa,
- Beyond Innocence Foundation (BIF) – a rescue centre and safe house for sexually abused minors in Kenya,
- Dali Spaces – a digital global community that empowers, enables, and supports women entrepreneurs,
- InvestFem – a database of female founded business and investors looking to invest in female enterprises,
- African Women Speakers – a global network to provide visibility for exceptional African women, trans and gender non-conforming people.
She’s also an advisory board member for Money 20/20, the Women’s Economic Imperative (WEI), international coding school for women CodeOp, and PaceUP Invest – a Netherlands based organisation helping women become financially independent.
As well as being a household name, 23-time Grand Slam Champion, advocator of equality in tennis, and fashion designer, Serena Williams is also the founder of Serena Ventures – a venture capital investments company for companies that embrace diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity and opportunity. Serena Williams is also partnered with Purple Purse, an organisation dedicated to ending financial abuse. Purple Purse estimates that 99% of domestic abuse victims also suffer financial abuse, making it harder to leave the abusive relationship, through tactics that intimidate and control a partner such a controlling how much money they can spend and where they can spend it, deliberately sabotaging employment or educational opportunities, or damaging their credit score.
You can read some great interviews with female leaders in fintech here where they discuss their motives and some of challenges they’ve overcome.
Here at Fido Merchant Services, we’ve currently got a 40% female workforce which is above average but leaves room for improvement. Our core values are diversity, transparency and improving the social and environmental impact of business which we aim to pass onto our clients. We are always looking for new talent as we expand – if you’d like to become a member of the Fido Team, get in touch and keep an eye on our blog for job posts.
For more information please contact us by phone or email:
+44 (0) 20 8039 4347