Finance with a woman’s voice

Silvia Albert

The world of finance has always been a relatively male dominated world. Our cultural tendency to make money seem to be the preserve of men, in business and in the family, has never gone away. If we add ageism to this, the equation is as perfect as it is unfair.

Comma has been working with companies in the financial sector for 25 years and, curiously, we have many women in leadership positions in their respective companies. What’s more, there are many teams made up solely and exclusively of women who achieve the same results – or even better – than those made up solely of men. In any case, women, much less numerous in certain sectors such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), are also less numerous in the financial world, especially when it comes to top positions.

What is it that makes the presence of women in financial sectors so low, is this really the case or is it simply that they have much less visibility?

Women are the ones who manage family economies, yet it is they who manage investment and savings. There is a clear need for women to empower themselves through financial freedom, being themselves solely and ultimately responsible for their finances. Indeed, a recent Bank of America report highlights that even in less affluent countries, more and more women are accessing banking services and becoming more involved in managing their money and making their own investment decisions.

Many examples

But today we want to talk less about women’s freedom through financial independence and more about the role of women professionals in a largely male-dominated sector. And we at comma have many examples of this, which we would like to highlight today, 8 March, coinciding with International Women’s Day.

One of the stories that fascinates us most is that of the team that runs the Money Market division of Federated Hermes. They are Deborah Cunningham (Chief Investment Officer, Global Liquidity Markets, Senior Portfolio Manager, Executive Vice President), Paige Wilhelm (Senior Vice President, Senior Portfolio Manager, Head of Prime Liquidity Group), Susan Hill (CFA, Senior Vice President, Senior Portfolio Manager, Head of Government Liquidity Group) and Mary Jo Ochson (CFA, Senior Vice President, Senior Portfolio Manager, Chief Investment Officer Head of the Tax-Free Liquidity Investment Area and Short-Term Municipal Bonds).

Their positions say it all. Federated Hermes is one of the first asset managers to create investment teams dedicated to cash management. That was 50 years ago. The team led by Cunnigham has prioritised, above all else, that people have a culture of collaboration and mentoring for each other. These women have been working together for many years, but it is a large group of more than 30 professionals, where, below the senior vice-president position, the gender split is 50/50, and with outstanding results.

In the transactional banking division of Bank of America, one of the largest banks in the world, Laura Franco, head of the Corporate Treasury sales division for Western Europe, and Andrea Sullivan, head of the bank’s international ESG platform and member of the bank’s executive committee for EMEA, are among many others.

And in Spain, we also have some notable leaders such as Almudena Benedit, head of investments for Iberia at the Swiss private bank Julius Baer, founded in 1890, and currently one of the leading financial groups in that country and with a significant presence in Spain. Or Ana Queipo de Llano, head of wealth planning for Iberia.

Beatriz Barros de Lis is another clear representation of women in the financial sector. Barros de Lis is now Head of Client Group Core America at AXA IM and lives in New York from where she leads the distribution team for the Americas Area, which covers the entire continent.

At one of the world’s largest asset managers, Natixis IM, Sophie del Campo is Managing Director for Spain, Portugal, Italy, Latin America and US Offshore. And, based in London, Carmen Olds heads up Natixis IM Solutions’ research services for Spain and Latin America.

UK investment manager Jupiter AM, whose hallmark is the investment freedom of management teams, has Susana García as sales director for Iberia.

In France, La Financière de L’Échiquier, which invests in listed companies, has Coline Pavot as Global Head of SRI investment analysis, with a special focus on impact investing, sustainable investing and the role of women in this type of investment. In fact, she is the author of the paper referred to at the beginning of this post.

Global Social Impact Investment  is the Spanish fund manager founded in 2021 specialised in impact investing with two key investment funds in Spain and Africa. María Ángeles León is its co-founder and president and has led the company to very high levels of profitability and commitment.

The independent asset manager specialising in corporate bonds, Muzinich & Co, has Tatjana Greil-Castro as co-head of Public Markets, who is also the head of the largest UCITS fund managed by a woman, in terms of assets. Tatjana is also a founding member of the leveraged finance platform ELFA and specialises in socially responsible investments and monetary policy, being a member of one of the ECB’s working groups.

In the fintech sector, Tali Salomon, regional director for Iberia and Latin America at eToro, a multi-asset social investment and social trading platform, stands out. Salomon is an expert in social investment through technology platforms, fintech innovation in trading, trends and preferences of retail investors.

Just a sample

They are not all there are, but they are all there are. The ones we bring here today are those who are currently with us at comma, but in our 25 years of business experience there are many women in the financial sector who have been and are fundamental in the development, growth and consolidation of their respective companies.

We are very proud to be able to shine a light on all these professionals, but we believe that there is still a long way to go. Giving visibility to these profiles and to their work is essential for the financial sector to face a profound transformation and to give fair recognition to the work carried out by women professionals beyond gender.

Happy 8M!

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