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Diversity and Empathy in Financial Services
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Women’s History Month: Diversity and Empathy in Financial Services

Amy Onorato
Amy Onorato

 

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Publicis Sapient welcomed female leaders from some of the largest financial institutions to discuss the power of diversity, inclusion and how taking a consumer-first approach will fuel the future of investing. Here are our key takeaways.

 

Diversity drives performance

According to Katie Koch, co-head of fundamental equity, Goldman Sachs, diverse teams can be a competitive advantage by offering a breath of different perspectives that can drive strategic investment decisions. However, Koch notes, diversity alone isn’t enough. Inclusion of those voices at the table matters too.

To drive this change, Koch says it’s important for organizations to view diversity and inclusion as a performance imperative, with goals directly aligned with business outcomes.

“Diversity is not just an issue of equitability, it’s an issue of alpha as well”, Koch said.

“Successful companies need to reflect the society they’re a part of, as understanding and innovating for a diverse customer base is more important than ever”, Koch said.

Currently, only seven percent of the investing partners at the top 100 venture firms are women and only 26 percent of women currently invest in the stock market. Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) has been working towards closing the gap, with a number of initiatives intended to empower female investors, increase access to capital for diverse entrepreneurs and help clients bring new voices to their boards.

 

Image of hands coming together, celebrating diversity

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Getting into the mind of consumers

Diverse perspectives will help inform internal strategy, but what about interacting with clients? Understanding client needs is also critical, especially as both consumers and financial organizations are navigating a world changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Stephanie Hammes-Betti, SVP, innovation design, U.S. Bank, taking an empathetic approach to understanding consumers will help drive innovation – especially as needs change over time.

“They’re [customers] expecting more…but we're going to have to figure out how to be empathetic through a screen or maybe over the phone in a different way that lets us know we're there for them,” Betti said.

For Lorraine Gavican Kerr, managing director, investor education, TD Ameritrade, putting yourself into the mind of the customer can help financial institutions tailor services based on unique client needs. New generations of investors, for example, may be looking for different types of financial advice or education and increasingly want their voices to be heard when interacting with their advisors.

“I think [it’s] putting yourselves in the mindset of the client in terms of the problems that they're trying to solve for or what opportunities they're seeking and then building your education offering or your content around that,” Gavican Kerr said.

For Emily Pachuta, chief marketing and analytics officer, Invesco, digital transformation must go beyond innovating for the sake of innovating. Instead, consumer needs should be aligned to goals and drive companies forward so they can remain relevant and competitive in today’s world.

“If you don't put context to the purpose of why we're trying to deliver better client experiences – so that people can get more out of life, so that people can have greater financial futures for themselves and their families – if you can't connect transformation and innovation to that, I think the ‘cool’ factor of innovation is just not as relevant,” Pachuta said.

 

“Having representation is about understanding the market and people.”
Katie Koch
Katie Koch, Co-Head of Fundamental Equity, Goldman Sachs

 

Leading with empathy

Empathy is not just important for client relationships – it can be a powerful tool for leaders when guiding the next generation of financial services professionals, too.

For leaders, practicing moments of self-reflection can help identify new opportunities and help ensure all voices are heard.

“When you have [or take] a moment to stop, reflect and assess what's happening, it gives you a chance to make a different choice that is deliberate and intentional,” Jasmine Thomas, SVP, relationship manager, U.S. business partnerships, community investing & development, Citi, said.

For employees looking to grow into leadership positions, one of the most important things to do is to speak up about your career ambitions, Thomas says.

“I think when you make your goals clear and your vision clear, it enables others to help you in that process and to make sure that you get the kind of career you want.”

How can women continue to empower themselves in their careers? Explore our HOW Talk featuring Teresa Barreira, chief marketing officer, and Lucy Thaliath Devassy, global chief of staff, as they discuss inclusion and their experiences as women in leadership at Publicis Sapient.

 

Amy Onorato
Amy Onorato
Content Strategy & Thought Leadership

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