Emelia Hamilton Russell hears from three high-flying female entrepreneurs and wealth managers about what International Women’s Day means to them.
Debbie Wosskow, co-founder of Albright
‘Last year’s International Women’s Day was when we opened the Albright, and it was the day the beast from the east blew in. Anna [Albright’s co-founder] and I turned up very early and we couldn’t get the keys in the lock because the lock had frozen solid. So last year’s International Woman’s Day will always now – for the future – remain inked on my memory.
‘As founder of a tech business, I’m used to being the only female in the room, so I was always quite aware of International Women’s Day. At Love Home Swap – which is the business that I sold in 2017 – we would do a whole day of events. Even though I mainly employed men, it felt important to really showcase these issues.
‘The statistics speak for themselves: Only 2 per cent of global capital goes to a female CEO and for every £1 of venture capital investment in the UK, just 1p ends up with all-female founder teams and 10p with mixed-gender teams. International Women’s Day is the one day of the year when everyone is very focused on the global sisterhood, so these statistics become really powerful.
‘Also, only 7 per cent of investors are female. Why is that!? It’s partly to do with capital and access to capital. Strange things happen if only men control the money. One in ten women say they want to start a business, but not many of them do. It isn’t as simple as saying ‘its sexism’. We need to start building networks, skills and confidence in women. One of the things we do at the Albright is we hold up a flag saying, “we’re here to help women and we’re here to help women get rich”.’
Shona Baijal, a managing director at UBS
‘For me, International Women’s Day is a time to stop and reflect and think about how we, as women, can further empower ourselves from both a personal and a financial point of view. As a banker, the financial aspect especially is something that’s always been quite dear to my heart.
‘Women are living longer. That means they’re more likely to experience divorce or be widowed and end up having to make financial decisions alone for the first time. We launched a study yesterday which looks at how women actually feel about managing their own finances. One of the really interesting findings was that 59 per cent of millennial women defer financial decisions to their spouses. We think that millennials – the next generation – are more empowered, but our data’s showing that that’s not necessarily the case and there’s a huge amount of work that still needs to be done.
‘There’s that quote from Madeline Albright: “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” For every woman who does have a modicum of success, the responsibility is on her to make sure she shares her knowledge and her experiences not only with younger women but with young men too. Some of them just don’t know what they don’t know, and their jaws drop when they hear the statistics and stories.
‘One of the things that I do with UBS is lead on the diversity and inclusion efforts, notably for gender, so I’ve been quite involved with International Women’s Day over the years. I’ve been faced with the usual questions of “but when is it going to be International Men’s Day?” The slightly glib answer – but the right one – is “it’s 364 days a year”. International Woman’s Day is the one day when we can stop and enjoy the fact that we’re women, and be empowered by that.’
Charlotte Ransom, CEO of Netwealth
‘International Women’s Day focuses the mind. I got into finance mainly because I was super competitive. All the men in my year at Bristol University were either going into finance or management consultancy. They were starting on what sounded like extraordinary base salaries, and all the more traditional ‘girly’ jobs were barely paying anything. I just wasn’t ok with that, and other women shouldn’t be either.
‘As the daughter of a progressive and inspirational mother, International Woman’s Day reminds me of the extraordinary progress women have made over the past century as each generation builds upon the endeavours of the last. I am delighted by the levels of ambition and confidence my own two daughters demonstrate when it comes to their futures. For them, and other women of their generation, I’m determined to help ensure they will have the same opportunities as their male counterparts.
‘As the CEO of a wealth management company, I see the startling characteristics female investors often share when it comes to ‘reckless caution’, and am excited to be breaking down the barriers within personal finance that have often prevented women from investing in smart, cost-effective ways, lined up with their financial goals. Being a part of women’s financial empowerment – just at the time when we will soon account for over 50% of overall UK wealth – is an immense privilege.’
Emelia Hamilton-Russell writes for Spear’s