2019 Summit Recap: Day 1

Day 1 of the 2019 Financial Alliance for Women Summit was packed with inspiring moments, insightful discussions and rich networking opportunities. Read on for a quick recap of key insights from each session:

Fireside Chat

The Alliance’s CEO Forum opened with a fascinating discussion between AXA CEO Thomas Buberl and the Canadian Ambassador to France Isabelle Hudon on key levers to close gender gaps in financial services across the public and private sectors.

Building Resilience Through Inclusion

The following panel explored the key role women play in economic progress. They make between 75 and 85 percent of household purchasing decisions and own one-third of the world’s businesses. Yet, women globally face a variety of barriers to accessing and using financial services, which puts them at an economic disadvantage.  Women also face life moments such as motherhood, divorce/widowhood and retirement that can make them particularly economically vulnerable. Featuring Alliance Chair Tania Moussallem, AXA’s Denis Duverne and Mastercard’s Ann Cairns, this session showed how the private sector can help build resilience throughout women’s lifecycles with access to the right combination of financial and non-financial services, and in providing that, how companies are building their own resilience.

Building Female-Friendly Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Up to US$326 billion could be added to the UK economy alone if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men, according to the “The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship.” By systematically analyzing the entrepreneurial journey from intention through start-up, sustain and scale-up for both male- and female-owned businesses, the report identifies key actions that need to be taken by the UK government, financial services providers and civil society to close the gender gap in entrepreneurship. This panel with McKinsey’s Paul Jenkins, the OECD’s Gabriela Ramos, RBS/NatWest’s Laila Page and AXA’s Ulrike Decoene compared and contrasted the UK case with other countries and regions to work toward a global blueprint for building female friendly entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Transforming the Customer Experience Through Technology

From providing a personalized user journey experience to integrating multiple financial and non-financial services seamlessly in the customer’s everyday life, discussants Donald Chesnut of Mastercard and K. Shelly Porges of The Billion Dollar Fund for Women showcased innovative technologies to transform the customer experience and offer the holistic value proposition that women need — access to information, education, networking and markets, as well as finance — to support them with key life moments like financing education, health issues, starting and growing a business, acquiring a house, etc.

Life Moments: Building Lifetime Resilience

Some life moments you plan for, others you never see coming. Whether joyous moments such as marriage or motherhood, or the uncertainty that comes with separation or widowhood, financial institutions have a role to play in supporting women through these critical life moments. This panel featuring the Alliance’s Hilary Nichols, PwC’s Jane Portas, Westpac’s Kate Holloway and AXA’s Liza Garay de Vaubernier focused on relationships (making and breaking up), motherhood and retirement. The session looked at how these diverse financial institutions identify and understand key life moments, how they impact women customers and how best to serve them during this journey, ultimately becoming the financial provider of choice for women. This session marked the launch of the Alliance’s latest InBrief on the subject, aiming to help FSPs think through personalized solutions that both boost women’s resiliency across their lifetimes and help deepen customer engagement.

Getting to the Top: Women in the C-Suite

Despite the business case for gender diversity and inclusion and its importance to capturing the Women’s Market, women remain largely absent from the leadership ranks of the financial services sector worldwide. While they comprise two-thirds of financial support staff and half of professionals, their numbers decline as they move up the hierarchy to less than a quarter of all executives. Additionally, at all levels above support staff, women are exiting at higher rates than men. In this session, Mercer’s Robert Baker, BRAC Bank’s Selim Hussain, FMO’s Peter van Mierlo, NatWest’s Julie Baker and Banco Galicia’s Constanza Gorleri explored the challenges FSPs face to achieving a gender-balanced executive team, and what they can do to advance and retain women executives and create an inclusive C-Suite.

Gender and Climate Finance

Women, who form the majority of the world’s 2 billion poorest people, are often disproportionally affected by climate change impacts as a result of persistent gender norms – and because of these norms, they are also at the frontier of sustainable energy solutions for household use. Rapidly increasing public and private capital for low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure is critical, particularly in emerging economies. This session with FinDev Canada’s Suzanne Gaboury, IMON International’s Firuza Nabieva, Itaú Unibanco’s Virginia Gonçalves and EBRD’s Marta Modelewska examined the intersectionality between gender and climate finance through the lens of the consumer, the commercial financial services provider and the development banker.

The first day of the Summit concluded with a Welcome Reception in the Atrium of AXA’s Paris headquarters. Take a look at our Instagram Stories to relive all the action from the day!