Explore the Course

 

Explore the

All-Stars Academy

Across the span of one week, the Financial Alliance for Women All-Stars Academy takes participants through every step of developing, launching and embedding a successful women-centered strategy. The course is based on our win-win approach of growing business by accelerating women’s financial power.

Experience our multimedia preview of course topics by scrolling through the sections below, or jump to a specific subject using the navigation links to the right.

 

Strategic Case for Advancing the Female Economy

The female economy is a bigger growth market than China and India combined, and yet the financial industry is still only beginning to unlock its full value.

Women make up to 80 percent of consumer decisions, run more than 98 million businesses, and are set to inherit trillions of dollars over the next few decades. So the demand for elevated financial experiences designed for women has never been higher. And it will only continue to grow.

Yet, globally and across the spectrum, most women are underserved by financial services — if they’re served at all: 73% of women report being unsatisfied with their financial services providers; 68% of women’s small and medium businesses have unmet credit needs; and women are 20% less likely than men to have borrowed from a formal financial institution.

In 2019 the GBA became the Financial Alliance for Women.

But the facts show that women are an exceptionally strong investment. Not only do they present less lending risk in general, but they’re more likely to reward companies who meet their expectations.

Meeting those expectations means going beyond providing them with access to financial services. It also means encompassing a holistic set of offerings like financial and business information, education, access to networks and recognition for their success. And because women are not a monolithic market, these offerings often need to be tailored based on specific segments and key life moments.

Providing women with such offerings has proven to be a strategic differentiator for Financial Alliance for Women members. When members put their energy toward accelerating women’s  financial power – through women-centered strategies, products and services – the impact they see on the bottom line, and beyond, is significant.

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Understanding the Opportunity

Internal Analysis & Data

Key to exploring an institution’s potential in the female economy is first understanding its current portfolio of female customers. This requires developing a strategy for collecting data on existing customers and establishing a baseline. The Financial Alliance for Women’s “The Power of Women’s Market Data: A How-To Guide” offers step-by-step instructions for those looking to get started.

1. Identifying needs and setting definitions: Determine what data the institution is currently tracking and identify any gaps. Set consistent definitions to be used across the organization for women’s businesses, women’s individual accounts and anything else that needs to be addressed based on local context.

In 2019 the GBA became the Financial Alliance for Women.

2. Data planning: Identify the critical metrics needed to track and measure progress from the start, as well as the nice-to-have metrics that aren’t immediately necessary.

3. Systems and processes integration: Work with the IT department to adapt internal systems as necessary. Modify processes for classifying, verifying and monitoring sex-disaggregated data for new and existing customers.

4. Data capture: Disaggregate existing accountholder data by sex to establish a baseline, and plan for future data collection by ensuring all staff are aligned with the proper processes.

5. Data analysis and use: Analyze and use the data to inform decision-making on a regular basis. Determine if it’s possible to automate data extraction, and develop dashboards to aggregate datasets.

Remember: Data is not the ultimate goal. Information is.

 

External Analysis

The next step in understanding the transformational opportunity in advancing the female economy is getting a clear picture of the size and primary demographic characteristics of the market. This is key in defining levers for potential growth and estimating expected market share.

The World Bank’s Global Findex reveals extremely useful country-level sex-disaggregated data. It offers a look at 60 indicators for more than 140 economies, including bank account usage, lending and saving. Other datasets providing rich insights on the female economy include: IFC MSME Finance Gap Database, IFC Enterprise Surveys, IMF Financial Access Survey, UN Demographic Statistics Database, UN World Population Prospects, World Bank Doing Business Data, World Bank Gender Data Portal, World Bank Poverty and Equity Data Portal, World Bank Women, Business and the Law Report.

It’s critical to supplement these quantitative insights with qualitative research. This means conducting studies of the market to determine what women in your region want and need from financial service providers that they’re not currently getting, and how they view the sector in general. This is an essential step in getting a full picture of the opportunity, and it’ll be invaluable information to have as the program enters the design phase.

Quantifying the Opportunity

Using information gleaned from both internal and external analyses, we can project an institution’s potential revenue gain from the female economy. Many organizations choose to factor the program’s investment requirements into their projections, using a metric such as the internal rate of return (IRR) or net present value (NPV) to discover whether the program is likely to succeed from a business standpoint. The IRR shows the overall return provided by a project’s cash flows, while the NPV shows the value of a long-term investment in today’s currency by discounting future cash flows to the value of currency today.

In 2019 the GBA became the Financial Alliance for Women.

Financial Alliance for Women Business Case Tool

The Financial Alliance for Women has a tool (available here) that helps the user begin to develop their business case for a women-centered strategy. The tool quantifies the market opportunity and estimates a financial service provider’s direct financial benefits from strategically targeting the female economy. The tool – which aggregates several world-renowned datasets – was created to help financial services practitioners interested in designing a women-centered strategy determine the potential such an initiative holds with concrete numbers.

Building the CVP: Financial Services

Once an organization has established the business case for serving the female economy and the project has received the go-ahead, they need to develop customer value propositions (CVPs) for the segments of women they’re choosing to target. For example, they may choose to segment based on demographics, business ownership stage or key moments in a customer’s life. Regardless of segment, CVPs for financial products and services should focus on customers’ real-world goals and clearly communicate the possible benefits.

The offering for each segment should reflect any findings from market research done in the exploration phase of the process. It should also take into account additional desk research, internal analysis, focus groups, interviews with customers and non-customers, and advice from thought leaders and gender experts. Critically, CVPs must focus on meeting the customer’s actual needs – not the bank’s needs or marketing slogans.

In 2019 the GBA became the Financial Alliance for Women.

Building the CVP: Non-Financial Services

Information, Education, Networking, Recognition

TEB Case Study Thumbnail
TEB in Turkey is a leader in NFS

To truly provide women with the tools they need to succeed, a financial services CVP is not enough. Organizations must also integrate a non-financial services (NFS) component, including business and financial information, education, networking and recognition.

This is a win-win proposition. The NFS benefit women, who usually want more information before making a decision, have often had less financial and business training, are under-networked, and have held less visible roles. And organizations can use NFS to differentiate themselves from competitors, expand outreach to current and prospective customers, and increase the financial knowledge and business management practices of women – making them better clients.

Maximizing Customer Impact with NFS

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NatWest in the UK has become an expert at leveraging the ecosystem

Implementing a holistic set of NFS can be expensive. Partnering with respected local and international organizations can help mitigate some of these costs. These partnerships can also be a branding and reputational win for an institution and help them gain access to more potential customers by tapping into the partner’s network.

Financial service providers in the Alliance’s ecosystem have strategically partnered with a number of organizations to help them deliver high-quality NFS, including nonprofits, universities, government institutions, development and international finance institutions, private sector mentors, and chambers of commerce. Successful partnerships have commitment from both parties, flexibility and mutual understanding of goals.

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Marketing the Program

A number of gender stereotypes remain engrained in societies around the world. Despite recent efforts by some major brands to move depictions of women in advertisements forward, a great deal of marketing still reflects these stereotypes.

Women are often seen in advertisements only in traditional roles as wives and mothers, and they’re often depicted cooking, cleaning or shopping. And many products marketed to women are “pink washed.” Because of this, women may view marketing as condescending and tend to mistrust it. Combating this requires avoiding gender stereotypes in all communications and treating women as the valuable customers they are.

Tips:

  • • As with your CVPs, tailor marketing based on the specific segment of women being targeted.
  • • Conduct research to find out what resonates with each segment.
  • • Across the board, resist the three Ps: pink, patronizing and passive.
  • • Don’t focus on how different women are from men.
  • • Be sincere and authentic in your messaging.
  • • Don’t hesitate to change something that isn’t working.
  • • Include women across every phase of design and launch.

Internal Alignment: Structure, People, Engagement and Communications

BHD Leon Case Study Thumbnail
Banco BHD León in the Dominican Republic has achieved full internal alignment

The long-term success of a women-centered strategy will require that everyone in the organization is aligned on the value of female economy.

To give the initiative the appropriate authority, it needs to be centralized in one business area, have a dedicated senior-level leader, and be driven by a core team responsible for strategy, implementation, engagement, communications, PR and marketing. The program may be centralized in one of many areas depending on which segments the organization decides to target. Assigning Gender Champions and Ambassadors at strategic and operational levels across the organization can help ensure it’s fully embedded.

In addition, all employees must understand how to serve women well, including those who are not directly responsible for the program. Earning support from key upper-level stakeholders can make it easier to gain buy-in from other levels. Internal communication on a women-centered program should be a priority and needs to explain the business case, include messages of support from the top of the organization, highlight the name of the program and its CVPs, outline next steps, and explain what it means for all staff.

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Gender Diversity & Inclusion

Becoming an Employer of Choice

Alliance members have found that it’s essential to walk the talk when it comes to championing the female economy, and they make gender diversity and inclusion a strategic priority. Doing this also allows for more innovative business ideas and practices, better market intelligence, and development of more customized solutions for women.

Moreover, data from McKinsey & Company shows a strong correlation between gender diversity in the C-Suite and both profitability and value creation. Research from 1,000 companies across 12 countries revealed that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity at the executive level were 21 percent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median and 27 percent more likely to have above-average long-term value creation than those in the bottom quartile.

In 2019 the GBA became the Financial Alliance for Women.

Successfully prioritizing gender diversity and inclusion requires hard-wiring policies and processes that support women in terms of recruitment, retention, advancement and development of key performance indicators (KPIs). It also includes soft-wiring organizational norms and culture to change mindsets and assumptions about the abilities and value of women.

Unconscious Bias

Unconscious biases about women aren’t limited to men. Everyone makes certain assumptions about others without realizing they’re doing so. These judgments are based on each person’s individual background, cultural environment and personal experiences, and they happen largely outside of our control.

Unconscious biases impact everything from recruiting and hiring to performance evaluation to promotions and succession planning – not to mention selling to women. Combating unconscious biases requires:

    • • Acknowledging that they exist
    • • Learning to be wary of first impressions
    • • Becoming more aware of common stereotypes
    • • Consciously working to broaden understanding
    • • Countering stereotype imagery in communications
    • • Using inclusive language

This is a very difficult habit to break and requires both training and consistent reinforcement – whether through ongoing internal communications, online seminars or more formalized in-person training programs.

 

Measuring Results: Establishing KPIs and Tracking Data

Developing quality and meaningful measurements is critical to evaluating a women-centered strategy’s progress and business impact. The program’s owner must establish KPIs that relate to the objectives of the institution as a whole, yet are limited to what the women-centered strategy can actually influence.

Common value drivers may include:

  • • Financial services: Number of accounts opened, loans or insurance products
  • • Customer engagement: Customer satisfaction scores, Net Promoter Scores or number of prospective clients contacted
  • • NFS: Conversion rates for prospects attending NFS events and cross-sales
  • • Diversity and inclusion: Percentage of women in management, percentage of promotions by gender, and average salary by gender and position level

Organizations should choose KPIs based on what will ultimately prove the program’s success, making the case to management for further investment and expansion.

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Regional Best Practices

Latin America

Marketing

In Latin America and the Caribbean, a great deal of advertising and marketing portrays women using traditional gender stereotypes. Local market research revealed to Banco BHD León that this messaging was not resonating with women, and they preferred to be represented in ways that depicted them more realistically. The bank’s branding and advertising for its Mujer Mujer program took this into account, attempting to avoid stereotyping and speaking to the actual needs and preferences of women in each of four sub-segments: salaried employees, professionals, heads of households and small and medium business owners.

Africa

Financial Solutions

Across Africa, many very small enterprises operate in remote locations that are far from bank branches. Financial service providers in the continent are deploying a variety of innovative digital solutions to reach them. Access Bank in Nigeria and NMB Bank in Tanzania are both leveraging mobile and direct-to-door agent banking models, with the latter also making use of shop owners as points of sale. Access Bank is also a leader in credit assessment innovations, with some of its subsidiaries using hybrid credit assessments and/or psychometric testing. The bank has also launched a low-interest loan for women business owners under its women-centered strategy, the W Initiative.

Asia

Internal Alignment

HBL in Pakistan is operating in an extremely male dominated society with deep-rooted patriarchal value systems. To ensure both men and women across the bank’s branches and at every level understood the value and potential of the female economy for the bank, HBL worked with IFC to implement Gender Intelligence training. Following the training, there was a measurable increase in gender awareness and support for women at the bank. Those who were trained also showed a 9-percent increase in intention to sell more to women, and branches whose managers took the course outperformed untrained branches in terms of women’s deposits by a significant margin.

Middle East

Non-Financial Services

BLC Bank has been supporting women entrepreneurs in Lebanon with critical non-financial services since 2012 via its We Initiative program. The bank holds a variety of educational seminars for female business owners and has become known across the country for its annual Brilliant Lebanese Awards. The program offers recognition for achievements and boosts the business profiles of nominated entrepreneurs via months of multichannel media coverage – from social media and blog posts to television interviews and commercials – culminating in a televised awards ceremony with cash prizes. The awards, which feature Woman Entrepreneur of the Year as a key category, also help create role models for other would-be women entrepreneurs in the country.