March 11, 2021

Discussing the Progress of Gender Equality in Finance and in Fintech with Tram Anh Nguyen and Huy Nguyen Trieu

The financial services and fintech industry has been particularly male dominated, but that doesn’t mean that women are ready to accept the sidelines. This International Women’s Day we celebrate every woman who is challenging the status quo and fighting against all odds to give the industry a new face.

We see women shaking things up in Southeast Asia, as Malaysia takes lead with more than 30% women holding leadership positions in the banking sector, according to Bloomberg in 2019. We see other countries like Singapore catching up too, evident from the recent appointment of Helen Wong as OCBC’s CEO, the first woman to head a Singaporean Bank.

In Latin America, we see women are stepping up as fintech leaders with 5 times more female founders than the global average in 2019, according to crunchbase. These women have also been major contributors to the amplified success the region has encountered.

We also see more women being employed in the European Fintech sector. 7 European countries that are among the top 30 of the Global Fintech Index City Rankings 2020, where fintech is thriving, have been found to employ more than 40% of women.

While these metrics reflect the balance restoring on the gender parity scale, it also reverberates the fact that a synergetic mix between men and women is the perfect recipe for success.

Gender inequality in Fintech and COVID-19’s impact  

The achievements of women in fintech mirror how women are breaking down gendered silos, creating new benchmarks for success and must be celebrated. While the sound of the glass ceiling shattering is empowering, we must also remind ourselves that this is not the full picture. The global landscape still presents a lack of women in the fintech industry.

Only 7% of women make up the Global FinTech Founder community as of 2020

Deloitte, 2020

It’s shocking to see that in the global fintech founder community only 7% of women make it into that bracket in 2020, according to Deloitte. The report also revealed that in the first six months of 2020 investments flowing into female founded startups was significantly less than that invested in male-founded ones – $875 million versus $12 billion to be precise. These figures are evidence that gender disparity still prevails and we can often be blindsided by the one-sided stories that make it to the headlines.

The gaping rift in the gender gap is especially notable during times of uncertainty like the current COVID-19 pandemic, that has had the power to set women back more than a decade. According to the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) 2020 report findings, an astonishing 87% of women business owners claim they have been adversely affected. Women have also been more vulnerable to job losses as compared to men. 

It is now up to countries, governments, investors and companies to decide – are they going to let women just recede back into the shadows? Or are they going to step up and collaborate to reverse the backtrack?

Why can women no longer be left out of the equation in Fintech

Including women entrepreneurs equally, alongside men, could boost the global economy by $5 Trillion

Boston Consulting Group, 2020

Do you want to boost the global economy by $5 Trillion? Then women need to be included equally as entrepreneurs alongside their male counterparts. Women have been seen to be exceptionally resilient and capable of generating higher returns on investment. However, they are still being denied an opportunity to flourish in the business world. The world is sitting on a golden egg. It’s time to wake up and open doors for women who can bring in new perspectives, ideas and innovations to spurt growth in a leveled playing field. Companies and countries who do not alter their strategies to embrace the idea of a more well-rounded workforce are bound to falter and will find themselves at a disadvantage in the war for talent.

How is CFTE playing a part in the global agenda for gender equality in Fintech

We believe education and empowerment can help. One of CFTE’s missions is also to ensure that everyone is able to leverage access to education, effectively ensuring that they are able to adapt and thrive in the rapidly changing FinTech industry. And it is through continuous education that women are able to empower themselves to break the glass ceiling. As of 2020, 40% of our alumni were women, this is a big achievement, but there is room for improvement.

“Today with the pandemic, despite improvements, women continue to be under-represented  in the Fintech industry. But I think part of the problem is the fear of technologies such as AI coming into work, some are not ready and are scared to make the jump. We would love to encourage more women to gain knowledge and skills in digital finance and be more averse to risks. With the pandemic, more roles are being created in a very short period of time. 

We conducted the Global Future Roles survey that showed us that new jobs are being created and skills are evolving. Looking at the survey, we believe women are more than capable to adapt to these roles too. The fintech industry is much bigger today and is looking for more talent. Keeping this in mind we’d like to encourage more women to understand their capabilities and play a greater part in Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship ”

Tram Anh, the Co-Founder of CFTE

CFTE also seeks to provide equal representation for all throughout the education programmes curated, namely, AI in Finance, FinTech Foundation, and Extrapreneurship.. By ensuring that gender diversity is ‘alive and kicking’ amongst the pool of industry experts hired. We spent a lot of time looking for exceptional women experts in Fintech who love to teach and also provide a platform for these wonderful women leaders in FinTech to be heard.

Gender diversity remains a priority on our education agenda and we are looking forward to future initiatives to foster and promote equality in FinTech worldwide.

How can we forge towards a more inclusive Fintech community

At CFTE, we have set up some local chapters around the world – in the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, France and other places to support not only women but everyone to meet and discuss the new world of fintech. Being online was primarily to access education, but when we meet, we encourage people to socialise and network to help to find opportunities. 

But the question is, once we exit this global pandemic in the coming months, we should ensure we set up some good plans for women to start the careers, 

how are we going to take center stage in this rebellion to foster a more female-led financial technology ecosystem? How can we encourage more Women in finance and technology to lead? How can we encourage more women to create, build and be an entrepreneur?

These are some questions that need to be addressed if we choose to embark on a journey of attaining an inclusive fintech community.

Words of encouragement from CFTE’s founders

Huy Nguyen Trieu, CFTE's co-founder

“I often say that it’s the most exciting time to be in financial services. There were no other times when it was possible to help billions access banking, finance their business or save for retirement. In this fast growing market, old established barriers are irrelevant, and there are opportunities for everyone to thrive, and I’d encourage women to seize that opportunity.

Huy Nguyen Trieu, CFTE’s co-founder

Tram Anh Nguyen, CFTE's co-founder

“Dear women, the world is one that is full of opportunities, there are many online education tools to help anyone to learn about all the things that were not accessible before. This year is a year of being reborn and reset for many people. I would encourage women to start building your knowledge, learn and try new things. Embrace and love the change”

Tram Anh Nguyen, CFTE’s co-founder


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