Friday 13th September 2013
A few recurring themes emerged throughout the Alliance’s Summit meeting two weeks ago in Istanbul. First, the business case for serving women became ever clearer, as speaker after speaker established the size and power of “the female economy” globally and in his or her own market. Second, treating women as a customer segment brings substantial benefit to a bank’s bottom line. Any bank that fails to recognize this will lose out to its competitors on a major opportunity. Finally, targeting women is not about corporate social responsibility but rather about sustainable practice. Banks that relegate women’s markets efforts to CSR will not get traction; banks with a commitment to sustainability generally, and who understand women’s markets in that context, will.
These conclusions emerged from three days of always-interesting, sometimes provocative panel discussions, workshops, keynote addresses, and networking at what turned out to be the Alliance’s largest Summit to date, bringing together more than 100 people from 24 different countries. Our how-to guide, Winning the Women’s Market was launched at the Summit as well, and the book (the Alliance’s first-ever full length technical publication) provided the framework for the best practice sessions where we showcased results, successes as well as mistakes made, lessons learned and valuable tips for banks to achieve scale and impact. I was struck anew at the generosity and openness of our Alliance members. Although this was my first Summit as the Alliance’s CEO, I am no stranger to conferences. The candid and participatory quality of everyone’s engagement during our best practices sessions leaves me grateful – and very hopeful for the Alliance’s future.
Beyond best practice, the Summit also focused on what needs to happen to build supportive ecosystems for women-owned SMEs. We were delighted to hear from the G20 on their policy initiatives as well as perspectives from Alliance sponsors, the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). We also learned a tremendous amount from our Turkish colleagues about the challenges and great work being done in Turkey to build holistic value propositions for Turkish women business owners through partnerships between Summit hosts Garanti Bank, Turkish universities, Turkish businesswomen’s associations, and the greater business community.
The major contribution of Garanti Bank made a decisive difference to the great success that was this year’s Summit. Their women’s markets program provided a fascinating case study, particularly for banks contemplating a focus on women SME owners, as Garanti’s women’s markets program does. In addition to that contribution of rich content, Garanti’s staff worked for months to ensure that every logistical aspect of the Summit would be flawless. The conference was brilliantly executed, reflecting the world-class institution that Garanti is, and I know the entire Alliance joins me in thanking them once again.
Finally, this week I had the fortune of attending the Clinton Global Initiative and was particularly struck by President Clinton’s final remarks. He said that what matters is not getting into the headlines but being on the right side of the trend. I think the Alliance is on the right side of one of the most important demographic trends in history – the astonishing rise in women’s economic influence. And I think we are getting and will continue to get headlines because as the global voice for the banking sector around this trend, we are uniquely well positioned to ensure its continued momentum.
Inez Murray, Chief Executive Officer
Global Banking Alliance for Women