On behalf of Butterfield, Jersey Finance, and 100 Women in Finance, a networking reception titled “Empowering Sustainable Futures: Women’s Influence in Financial Investment” was recently held at the Jersey Museum and Art Gallery. The event featured a compelling panel discussion and networking opportunities, focussing on the intersection of gender diversity and finance, and the role of women in driving sustainable financial practices.

Introduced by Michelle Le Blond of Butterfield and moderated by Amy Bryant, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Jersey Finance, the panel included Gilly Challinor, Senior Programme Officer Jersey Overseas Aid; Rhea Wright, Investment Manager at Quilter Cheviot; and Amy Flikerski, Managing Director and Head of External Portfolio Management at CPP Investments, who joined in her capacity as Global Association Board Member of 100 Women in Finance.

 

Key Discussion Highlights 

Empowerment Through Education and Leadership: Amy Bryant initiated the discussion with notable statistics underscoring the progress and potential of women in finance. She highlighted that women under 40 are the best-educated generation of women in modern history, that women hold 29% of global leadership positions – the highest ever – and control one-third of the world’s wealth. Amy also pointed to the significant impact of the Great Wealth Transfer, where $84.4 trillion is expected to shift to younger generations by 2045, potentially enhancing women’s influence in financial decision-making.

Women and ESG Investing: Rhea Wright shared insights on women’s proclivity towards ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) factors in investment decisions. She noted that 80% of women report considering the ‘E’ (environmental) aspect of ESG when investing, compared to 65% of men, and 90% show interest in the ‘S’ (social) aspect. Historical examples like Mary Ellen Pleasant, a pioneering African-American millionaire and philanthropist, were cited to illustrate the longstanding tradition of women investing for social impact.

Jersey Overseas Aid’s Focus on Financial Inclusion: Gilly provided a unique perspective on Jersey Overseas Aid’s initiatives. Emphasising financial inclusion, Gilly discussed projects aimed at empowering marginalised women in Nepal through microfinance and financial literacy programs. These initiatives aim to reduce poverty and increase resilience by enabling women to finance and build safer homes, thus improving their economic standing.

Challenges and Opportunities in the Finance Industry: Amy Flikerski addressed the gender disparity in institutional investing, noting that while more young women are entering the field, there is a significant drop-off at the family stage. The panellists agreed on the importance of networks and mentorship, highlighting the role of organizations like 100 Women in Finance in providing support and advocacy. They also discussed the critical role men play as allies in promoting gender diversity in finance.

Venture Capital and Gender Disparities: A stark statistic highlighted was that 89p of every £1 in venture capital is invested in male-led groups, with only 1p going to women-led groups (the remaining 10p being in mixed-gender groups). This disparity is partly attributed to the lack of women involved in investing venture capital, resulting in missed opportunities for investing in innovative companies. The panel discussed the need for more women in VC roles to bridge this gap.

Quotas and Policy Interventions: The panellists debated the effectiveness of quotas on boards and the balance between governments and industry’s roles in fostering women’s career progression. They pointed out that while entry-level positions are gender-balanced, there is a steep decline in female representation at managerial levels, often due to family responsibilities. The need for policies supporting shared caregiving responsibilities was considered to create a more equitable professional environment.

 

Conclusion

The event successfully highlighted the vital role of women in shaping sustainable financial futures and the ongoing challenges they face. Through engaging discussions and shared experiences, the participants left with a reinforced commitment to promote gender diversity and driving positive change in the financial sector.