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Empowering Women to Rise up in Financial Services Across the World

Tracey Davies, President of Money20/20 & Founder of the Rise Up initiative, outlines the five ways the program empowers women at work as the initiative comes to Singapore.

I have always been a hopeful optimist about the trajectory of women, but as the number of women reaching the top just hasn’t made the progress I expected, I have become much less accepting of the status quo. How can it be that we still aren’t seeing faster progress for women across the world and in every industry?

And yet, in the past 12 months, it does feel like we are finally seeing an attitude shift, even if it is not yet the big change needed to truly unlock the talent the financial services industry needs. We have seen new laws on female board representation and governments & regions legislating that companies must publish detailed comparisons of gender pay data. And I am delighted to see many organizations – including PayPal and Accenture – publishing clear targets for inclusivity – not just guidelines or goals but tangible targets to be hit.

The facts are simple and clear. Report after report from esteemed and respected sources globally has confirmed that diverse businesses are happier, more profitable, and more successful, yet we still see a substantial gap in all forms of diversity.

In 2018, I launched Rise Up at Money20/20 in Las Vegas. Rise Up is a curated leadership academy for aspirant female talent in our industry. It is a four-day program in personal leadership and development. It tackles, briefs, and equips women in a world where getting a seat at the table in some companies remains challenging, and it helps women who, more than ever, want to be connected to women just like them to form supportive, connected networks.

In the US, only 27.8% of senior-level positions in the financial services industry are held by women, according to Marsh & McLennan Companies. The figure drops to 19.8% when analyzing board positions and plummets to 1.4% for female CEOs.

In Asia, there are huge disparities on gender inclusivity. The recent INSEAD study of 1557 of the largest listed companies across 20 Asian countries highlighted that women occupy just 12.8 % of board seats across Asia. There are substantial differences across the region – Australia and New Zealand lead with 24.7% and 21.7% respectively – whereas Taiwan, Japan and South Korea range between 2% to 7%.

The global financial service industry is undeniably undergoing massive change. There really is a money revolution, with many predicting that the next five years will unleash more seismic shifts than the previous five. The industry’s needs are changing rapidly and it is thirstier than ever for innovation, creativity, and leadership talent. This is why it is so vital that we unlock all available talent to support the incredible growth opportunities in the sector.

It’s for these reasons that I am extending our highly successful program Rise Up to Money20/20 Asia. Rise Up is not simply facilitating another conversation on gender imbalance, but rather providing a solution and steps to real-world action. We do this in five ways:

  1. We empower future female leaders by providing hands-on advice from experienced leaders of all descriptions.

  2. We outline the obstacles that women face and provide practical solutions for overcoming them.

  3. We help women to build and leverage strong personal networks that help open opportunities and provide support & resilience.

  4. We connect up-and-coming talent with experienced leaders in powerful combinations that are highly valued by both partners.

  5. We deliver cutting edge thought leadership on where the industry is headed through Money20/20’s privileged position at the heart of FinTech.

I am excited and eagerly looking forward to welcoming our first 2019 Asia Rise Up cohort to Singapore. May they go far.


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