Growing up, I was fascinated by finance. I read books on investing in high school, started a real estate investment club in college and talked about finance way more than was cool at the time. However, in my hunt for content and role models there were few women in mainstream financial services that I could look to for inspiration. Add technology to the mix, and the number of women shrank by an even greater extent.
Today, the financial industry landscape looks quite different. While more work needs to be done in to elevate women into executive positions, there is no shortage of incredible role models in financial services today who are making a difference their fields. An analysis conducted by Harvard Business Review of 50 large financial institutions found that women occupy 20 percent of executive committee roles and only 22 percent of board seats. True, this number is not great by any stretch of the imagination. However, there are some amazing ladies blazing trails that will continue to drive that percentage higher for all of us.
Here are just a few powerful women who are not only leading the charge in finance but are innovating fields not known for accepting change:
1. Abigail Johnson
Johnson went from answering phones in the customer service department at Fidelity Investments to now leading the fourth largest asset manager as its chief executive officer. These days, Johnson is embracing innovation and is a vocal supporter for the wider use of blockchain.
2. Adena Friedman
Friedman became the first woman to head up a global exchange company in 2017 when she was named CEO of NASDAQ. Friedman realized the exchange company could do more for investors and launched a technology based data analytics hub that helps inform decisions.
3. Carrie Russell
Russell, a former executive at TD Bank and executive strategic advisor to Finn AI (who also happens to have a female CEO), is leading the charge helping banks and financial services companies better serve underbanked populations through artificial intelligence and natural language processing that helps customers save more, see spending patterns and improve their credit scores.
4. Marianne Lake
Lake is one of the most senior women on Wall Street. The chief financial officer for JPMorgan Chase, Lake is credited for introducing automation technology, including a new company-wide platform that oversees regulatory capital. If that was not enough, she is also a single mother of three children, juggling a high-profile job and family demands.
While there is a gap in financial services, there are also hundreds of inspirational role models that are putting some mighty cracks in the glass ceiling and are clearing the path for a new generation of female leaders. I might have missed them when I was a child, but my young and ambitious daughter certainly will not.
She’s watching so amazing women doing so many amazing things, and is shown everyday what she can become.