Jane has been a member since 1977.
Could you tell us about your roles in the industry throughout your career?
My first experience in banking was at Lloyds Bank, Southampton Row in the most junior role in banking: the ‘Waste Department’ (processing of cheques, bank giro credits, house credits and debits etc.) which I loathed initially due to the repetitive and boring nature of the work.
However, I was so fortunate to be noticed early on by the branch Sub Manager’s Assistant, who encouraged me to study for my Institute of Bankers Exams.
I was then trained to do General Office duties, Cashiers, Foreign (Bureau de change and foreign payments), Refers (dealing with accounts overdrawn without arrangement), Uncharged Securities Charged Securities and Home Loans.
It was thanks to the Senior Manager of Berkeley Square Branch that I joined The Chartered Institute of Bankers London. I became a committee member of which I was a part for 15 years, initially as Education Officer for Ten years then as President for a year.
Lloyds Bank established its ‘Lloyds Bank Commercial service’. I was appointed Assistant Manager at Finchley LBCS, and so it was that I became the only woman in a team of 7.
Another promotion to Assistant Manager of Paddington Branch. The role was operational running the branch of 30 staff. To complicate matters there was a branch merger and major work on the actual building. The branch at times resembled a war zone with falling masonry and thick plaster dust) both of which required my involvement too, my reward for a job well done was:
Operational Manager. I was now in charge of ‘The Waterloo Place Pall Mall Project’ which established a new branch for all overseas clients of Lloyds.
Then followed a number of branch appointments during the bank’s ongoing restructuring programme, in each appointment I was responsible for Staff, Clients, Lending, Deposits and Sales of Insurance and investment products. Becoming disillusioned with what to my mind was at times corporate dissipation of ethics… I gave serious consideration to moving on...
Again the Institute came to my rescue now offering the opportunity to undertake two year’s additional study to obtain a university degree through London Guildhall, the Institute’s Diploma counting towards the qualification. I commenced my degree, completed it and bid farewell to Lloyds Bank to set up:
Lewis Blyth and Co which provided business advice to SMEs: speaking about managing personal finance at schools, one of which was Rugby...
Soon I also undertook Expert Witness work in banking, then becoming a Co-Director of Intrabank Expert Witness (IEW) whose joint founders were Ron Gerrard, a Fellow of the Institute, and the Late Eric Glover, former Secretary General of The Chartered Institute of Bankers which is of course now The London Institute of Banking and Finance. As an Expert Witness in Banking I earned and was granted Law Society approval.
Despite having run successfully Lewis Blyth and Co and been a Co-Director of IEW for almost three years I realised I missed the ‘buzz’ of a larger organization and so started to look for new opportunities.
And thus I was so fortunate to join the Bank of England as Banking Adviser in its Operational Banking Division. I worked on special projects with a myriad of outside bodies as well as providing support and advice within the Bank itself from the Governor and Chief Cashier to the operational Banking Division.
A case in point being Merlyn Lowther, The Chief Cashier, who also valued professional qualifications and who tasked me with encouraging the Banking Division’s staff of 400 people to undertake relevant professional qualifications.
This I did, increasing numbers from the low teens to almost half…key amongst the qualifications was of course The Chartered Institute of Banker’s exams.
A new opportunity arose and I moved to Abbey National’s internet bank cahoot, as its Head of Banking, responsible for its many departments including Head Office Complaints, Risk and Control, Payments, Visa, and Facilities, Training my direct staff and the 400 staff in cahoot’s Call Centre, as well as collaboration with Service Providers in London, Bradford and Sheffield.
Why did you choose to begin working in Banking and Finance?
In all honesty, it was accidental. I had planned to study History in order to become a History Teacher, first earning some money for a year to help fund my degree. I saw an advert for Lloyds Bank in The Evening Standard in January 1976 and I thought the interview experience would be good. I was offered the job, the money looked OK (compare with that I earned doing a Saturday job whilst still at school).
My plan was to be Banking for just one year!
What year did you join the industry?
What would you say has changed the most for women in the industry since you joined?
Far greater opportunity for career progression, on merit, for women generally.
The opportunity to take maternity leave without it most adversely affecting the career progression of the individual, thus facilitating family life as well as a career …something men enjoyed from the beginning of time but which was not generally so for women. This to my mind is one of the most important and valuable changes for women.
The demise of a myriad of sexist comments by male colleagues who couldn’t cope with women in management, for example "The best place for women is in the home" or indeed women who had aspirations to Management, for example, “you don’t want to be put forward to the MD Scheme, you’ll be married with a family in a couple of years”.
Is there any advice you would give to the next generation of bankers?
• Academic knowledge enhances the ability to deliver the highest professional standards …
• To always act in the utmost good faith
• Be true to yourself: if you consider an organization’s professional / operational standards require improvement try, from within the organisation, to bring about that change. Decide upon your optimum objectives and timing. If it doesn’t go to plan – move on to new opportunities elsewhere.
We’re turning 140 this year - What does our organisation mean to you and your career?
So many things: for example:
It provided the academic knowledge to fulfil so many functions in banking enabling me to deliver the highest professional standards in for example:
• The Finance of International Trade
• Lending wisely as a result of understanding Balance Sheets and the essential factors to take into account when financing individuals, large and small businesses and PLCs.
Investment (before the advent of Regulated advice)
• Managing people
• Perhaps most important of all – understanding the law relating to banking – much of which was case law and ergo understanding the imperative of working in a given way
• Through involvement in The London West End Centre Committee and the need to manage events my:
• Presentation and organizational skills were developed - not least, as President of The Centre organizing a dinner for 1200 Bankers and their Guests at Grosvenor House in 1997 and at that Dinner, at my personal behest, seeking donations from those present for Children in Need which raised just under £10,000
• as were my collaborative skills in working with colleagues from across the banks
perhaps most importantly to me the establishment of lifelong friendships
Any other details regarding your career, and the impact of women in banking and finance?
From what I have observed over almost 40 years in the commercial world just as men are generally much greater risk takers, women are generally a force for good in moderating extreme conduct. Leading from these conclusions is my thought that had there been more women at senior / executive levels at, for example, Johnson Mattey Bankers, BCCI, Barings, Lehman Brothers, Northern Rock and Bradford and Bingley Building Society, all of which are failed financial institutions, it is possible they may not have failed.
I am so pleased the balance is changing albeit sad the change is not quickly enough.
And to conclude:
My husband was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer and died as a result of this in December 2005. It was a Damascene moment for me and I had an overwhelming desire to leave the world of banking to make a tangible difference to those terminally ill and their families, my Mother having died from the devastating neurological disease Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP*) just over 13 months earlier in October 2004.
I left cahoot in December 2006, a new job search began for me. The Sunday Times came up trumps again, and In July 2007 I was offered the role of Chief Executive of The PSP Association (the only UK Charity supporting those with PSP and their families, researching for a cure and raising awareness of the disease with medical professionals… (a disease I knew so much about.) It was my operational and academic knowledge, skills and experience, the academic all thanks to The Chartered Institute of Bankers which secured me this incredible role … the most rewarding to me in my whole career, and the reward I speak of was not of a financial nature.
(* On average an individual with PSP, over two to four years, loses their ability to walk, talk, see and swallow yet their intellect remains unimpaired … they are trapped in a broken body. People with PSP frequently die from drowning, their saliva filling their lungs as they cannot swallow – an horrific death. The care my Mother received from the NHS was all but non-existent, the medical professionals, aside from the neurologist knew little about the disease and even less about how to care for someone with it. However, my husband’s care, thanks to a National Care Pathway for Cancer and our local Hospice, Willen, was exemplary. It was the knowledge of what should have been possible for so many people drove me to change careers.)