Fintech emerged from the 2008 financial crisis to transform traditional financial services, with aspirations to innovate, build trust and, deliver greater efficiency. While progress has been made for customers and businesses, are we optimising our ability to innovate?
Despite the UK being one of the fastest growing Fintech economies, female founders make up only 17% of Fintech companies and receive 10% of all investment made into Fintech businesses.
Why aren’t there more female leaders in Fintech?
The finance and technology industries remain palpably male dominated, with only 20% of executive committee members in major UK financial services firms being female. This is partially due to the unconscious bias that negatively influences recruitment, promotion and investment decisions.
For example, research indicates that venture capitalists (VCs) tend to ask men questions about the potential for gains – known as a promotion orientation, and women about the potential for losses – a prevention orientation. Entrepreneurs who addressed promotion-orientated questions raised six times more money than those asked prevention-orientated questions.
Another contributing factor is that too few women pursue STEM subjects at school and university. Today, a third of all job vacancies at banks are tech related. However, the pipeline of women to fill these roles is limited – only 26% of UK graduates with a STEM degree were women in 2019.
What can be done to increase the opportunities for women in Fintech?
The quickest way to change an unequal dynamic is to move the money to where the issue is and put it to work.
“If you properly fund women-led Fintechs you solve this really fast. More visible women leaders, creating pathways for other women to move into Fintech, join the C-suite, sit on boards, get into venture capital and start their own companies. It’s not an afterthought for us. We don’t have to be reminded to hire women into senior positions.” Caroline Hughes, CEO Lifetise.
“In the same way that the UK government introduced the SEIS and EIS schemes to incentivise early stage investment, similar programmes benefiting investors in terms of risk mitigation and tax benefits should be set up to incentivise greater investment into women-owned and women-managed businesses,” says Nadia Sood, CEO and Founder CreditEnable.
It’s important we act now
The Rose Review conducted in 2019 by HM Treasury estimated that up to £250 billion of new value could be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as UK men. In a time where we need innovation in financial services more desperately than ever before we must increase the opportunities for female leaders to solve some of the most critical challenges facing our economy.
Click here to learn more from the Fintech Innovation Lab.
This article originally appeared in Business and Industry’s 2020 Fintech Campaign.
Jen Morris – Accenture Financial Services
Tom Graham – Accenture Financial Services Leadership