All institutional and corporate clients, regardless of gender, make buying decisions according to how well a product or service meets the needs of their business, rather than personal preferences. So can, or indeed should, financial services firms be thinking about how well they are serving their female clients?
We surveyed senior women treasurers, CFOs, and other C-suite executives responsible for financial decisions to find out. We were surprised not only by the results, but also by the strength of the conviction in the responses we received. This is not a topic that senior women in corporations get asked about often and they were eager to articulate the changes they would like to see.
It’s less common but one still sees all-white, all-male pitch teams turning up. These days it is very rare for them to make it to the short list.Elizabeth Corley, former CEO, current Senior Advisor, Allianz Global Investors
Only 30% of women surveyed were satisfied with the gender diversity of their financial services providers. And while only 27% would say that gender diversity impacts purchasing decisions, 77% believe it is important to be served by a gender-balanced team. Respondents emphasized that gender diverse teams provide better service; teams that lack gender diversity often fall short in four key areas:
1. Failure Of Empathy
Relationship managers and sales people who are women tend to ask questions and listen up front, then address their firm’s capabilities after listening. The men dive right into their firm’s capabilities and listening to our needs was secondary.CFO, financial services
2. Lack Of Diversity In Ideas
Gender-diverse teams provide differing outlooks and will recommend a complete picture.CFO, technology, media & telecommunications
3. Unconscious Bias Undervaluing Or Marginalizing Women
I think in some ways my abilities and knowledge are more scrutinized. I have to prove certain things, while the perception is that some of my counterparts who are men are assumed to know things until they prove otherwise.CFO, technology, media & telecommunications
4. Default To Men’s Preferences
Men tend to invite people to attend sporting events; I’d honestly prefer to go to a show or concert instead.CFO, financial services
Gender Diversity In Corporate And Institutional Banking
Women want to be treated with equal respect to their counterparts who are men. They seek service providers that will understand their corporation’s needs and can generate the most creative and effective solutions. While women make their choices on product fundamentals, diversity can be a competitive differentiator because it recognizes the client’s context and brings broader ideas to the table.
This does not mean women consistently prefer to be served by women. The solution is not box ticking by having a woman on the sales team. Our survey respondents cautioned that they can easily see through superficial attempts to appear diverse. But better balance within coverage teams would improve a firm’s ability to address a broader range of purchasing styles and bring more diverse ideas to the table – for everyone.
If the image you portray externally is not an outward manifestation of true internal culture, then it will become obvious sooner or later and will lead to a loss in credibility.Christiana Riley, CEO, Deutsche Bank USA Corp, Senior Group Director, Americas Region