Women in Business Lending - the industry is in good hands
As a lendtech we tend to speak to people who are early adopters. People who actively champion positive change in their organisations and for the businesses they support.
So when the team sat down to plan an event that would bring these people together, we were over the moon to discover that just over half of these people were woman.
Now that’s something worth celebrating.
And so the Women in Business Lending event was born. On 15 November 2022, a group of women in business lending, their allies and a panel of our peers got together in London. Topics on the agenda included: building resilient careers as your authentic self - in what is traditionally a very male-dominated industry - and forging the next generation of business lending.
Honesty. Warmth. Determination.
Three words to describe the Women in Business Lending event. Honesty, for the open way fears, ambitions and lessons learnt were discussed. Warmth, for the supportive and welcoming atmosphere in the room. Determination, for the unquestionable passion for making business lending more inclusive and accessible for the businesses that need it to thrive.
But don’t take our word for it watch the video below. We’ve also included some key takeaways after the video.
Transform business lending - 6 key takeaways:
Want to embed an innovative culture? Hire more women. Businesses with gender equality in leadership tend to be 19% more profitable and have a safer long-term business model. When women join the conversation the dynamic in dialogue shifts. Companies become more open to change and more risk aware instead of risk adverse.
Diversity of thought drives better lending products: Although woman are proven better repayers of debt - it is still harder for them to get access to finance than men. Unconscious biases like this limit the potential of an industry and the economy - from underwriting and product development to customer engagement - a diverse team will unpick the unconscious biases embedded within our industry.
There’s a difference between transformation and automation: Lenders need to start thinking about their product strategy. Forget about automation and digitising processes. Realign yourselves with customer behavior and create a product strategy based on their needs. Only then will we transform working capital rather than just automate it.
Get a hold of your data: The technology and the ecosystems exists to pull data from all sorts of places. The amount of data isn't the issue, it’s what we choose to do with it and how we then model our decision-making.
Bring it back to the customer: A business's need for finance is not going to change - but how businesses behave - the systems they use to manage their businesses - will. From relationship managers, to risk and legal teams, they all need a common set of goals and that needs to be rooted in what the customer needs. You can never get money to customers too quickly, so keep aiming to do better than what you did yesterday.
Lean in to the pace of change: Covid was a catalyst for digitising the business lending industry - and it’s only going to speed up from here. But there’s a lot to do - it currently takes longer to access working capital than it does to get a mortgage. The opportunity is huge. Those who don’t act will be left behind.
Build authentic careers - 5 key takeaways:
Find the purpose: There is no secret recipe to being successful - but if you are fundamentally unhappy with what you do, it will take a long time to reach your goals. If you're not quite sure what the purpose is, then find it. Because when you do it’s like magic. The customer connection, the impact of delivering change or fixing something that’s broken - passion can come from anywhere.
Shout about it from the rooftops: “Keep your head down, work hard and you’ll get noticed” is a common piece of advice women receive. But that’s completely untrue. When you deliver a piece of work - stand up, be proud and make sure everybody knows it is yours.
Really invest in people: Don’t network for networking’s sake. Identify your gaps in knowledge or skills and seek out people you can have a conversation with about it. Be curious about different departments and roles to uncover how it all connects together. And return the favour. You're not in every meeting room. The broader your network the more likely your name will come up in those meeting rooms.
Learn to negotiate: If you want to break through that glass ceiling, get comfortable asking for that promotion, new project or increase. Typically, people do not say “you’ve done a great job - here’s a promotion” so it’s important for you to sell the idea to your manager. Nail your elevator pitch when you do.
Women are uniquely positioned to champion diversity: Diversity comes in many forms; income, education, sexual orientation or abilities (see diversity iceberg below). Creating a sense of belonging allows people to bring their authentic selves to work. But be prepared. If you plan to be an authentic leader - plan to feel uncomfortable some of the time. But it will be worth it.