Our REACH programme – which was recently shortlisted for a Green Gown Award – sets out to diversify the banking sector, and enable social mobility and inclusion. Looking back on July’s REACH event with young women, this article illustrates how.
There’s a stereotype that being a banker means you’re a maths genius who loves dealing with spreadsheets all day. Of course, like all stereotypes, it's wrong.
The varied roles in financial services today demand different points of view and different skills – such as strategy, data analytics, technology and marketing. And the industry needs a rich diversity of people to bring their perspectives and talents to the finance sector.
But without positive action, diversity in banking and finance is unlikely to happen anytime soon. The FCA estimates that at the current rate, gender equality in the sector will not happen for another 88 years!
Which is where our REACH programme comes in.
We hold several one-day free workshops every year, to show young people of all backgrounds and every gender that – if they’re interested – banking and finance is a good career for them.July's REACH event was no exception, and we were delighted to welcome a group of young women from schools and sixth-form colleges who were to curious to find out more.
In June, Founding Director of Axion Property Partners, Ayesha Ofori was listed as one of The Sunday Telegraph's 'Britain's brightest female business leaders under 35'.
She gave up a morning to come to our REACH event, where she spoke candidly about her career in investment banking, wealth management and property investment.
Ayesha described her journey – the challenges she faced as well as the fun she'd had along the way – and shared her top tips:
- find a mentor, before you start your career and throughout your career because it’s important to get a second perspective
- if you want to do a particular role, keep your eyes and ears open, but be receptive to other roles because something may come along that suits you better
Ayesha was generous with her time, sticking around to answer questions from her audience on everything from running your own business, to networking and finding a mentor.
Tama Muyunda, who has just finished her A’levels said, “I actually feel empowered.” Asked why, she explained that Ayesha was “not like your typical person when you think of bankers”.
"It's nice to see someone from a different background can still be successful in there. Seeing someone like her – I could actually go into that field.
Interactive trading simulation
Dhinta Foster, Product Development Executive at Amplify, ran an interactive trading session.
"I think it's really important to outreach to younger women, and younger underprivileged groups of students," she said. "When I was their age – say the age of 15 to 18 – I had no idea about financial services."
Dhinta talked through the work of investment banks and introduced to trading through a computerised trading activity. For an hour, participants were either global market investors or hedge fund managers.
"Getting that experience is important," said Dhinta. "It's important for them to know whether this is something that really interests them."
The winning team in the trading simulation earned £248,000 of virtual commission!
Noellia Cedric, who will be going into her final year of sixth form in September, said she'd enjoyed the session. "It's kind of helped me see if it's something I'm good at, if it's something I like or not."
Meeting professionals and networking
After lunch, we were joined by Aneesa Malik of HSBC, Benise Asante Boahene, of Deloitte and Elicia Newman and Monica Conder – both of Handelsbanken – for a panel session.
This gave participants a chance to hear from young professional women about how to get ahead in the industry. They were also able to ask questions, before learning about the opportunities to study a degree at The London Institute of Banking & Finance.
The day finished with speed-networking which gave participants a chance to chat with speakers and staff.
"REACH is designed to bring more talented people from under-represented groups into banking and finance," said Hema Tank, Associate Dean, "And we always hope that it will encourage people to apply to our university. But it's also about much more than that!'
"Whether they decide to enter the sector or not, we hope that the young women who spent the day with us today will all take away some inspiration and guidance that will serve them well in the future.
See our upcoming events