Letter from Inez: October 2016

Wednesday 26th October 2016

Inez Murray 2016 GBA SummitWe had a record turnout for the 2016 GBA Summit last week, with the highest global representation ever: 80 organizations from 45 countries. GBA members and guests exchanged information and ideas, and made exciting new connections across the world.

The discussions were highly engaging and insightful, and a few key themes emerged. First, business as usual is not enough. This was particularly emphasized during our sold-out Master Class, where our latest research report, “The Paradox of Gender Neutral Banking,” was launched. Based on customer insight from 12 GBA banks, the report finds that the way for banks to reach and keep women customers is not to treat them the same as men — to be gender-neutral — but rather to be gender intelligent, integrating women’s specific financial needs, preferences, attitudes and behaviors into business models and customer value propositions. The report shares the top five insights banks must know and the top five solutions to capturing the female economy.

Second, data is still part of the answer. Data was highlighted front and center in many of the panels, and in particular at the Policy Forum, which examined ways that more and better supply- and demand-side sex-disaggregated data can drive Women’s Market development. Members presented their powerful business cases and argued that having sex-disaggregated data is central to maintaining and embedding the program throughout the bank. Several discussions focused on the specifics of setting and tracking KPIs — notably in the area of non-financial services.

Third, banks cannot (and should not) go at it alone. Establishing strong strategic alliances and working with different ecosystem actors were topics mentioned throughout the conference. We learned about a myriad of innovative strategies, from working with incubators and accelerators to better serve women-owned start-ups and high-growth businesses at Westpac and RBS, to developing strategic allies within and outside the bank to develop a holistic non-financial services value proposition at TEB, as highlighted in our recently launched third Case Study. We learned from Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), of the powerful support offered in the United States to women business owners, including loan guarantees to support banks’ underwriting of loans, a model for other countries to learn from.

Fourth, the ways in which digital solutions can enhance the value proposition for women was highlighted. From skill building through tools for cash flow and financial planning, offering remote advisory services and connecting women to support networks; to the ability to underwrite loans through use of 3rd party information for improved risk assessment; to radically reducing the transaction costs of banking through mobile interfaces.

Finally, the correlation between having a strong internal diversity and inclusion platform and success with the Women’s Market was discussed, along with the critical importance of top-down internal buy-in and training employees on gender intelligence.

Sincere thanks goes out to the host team at the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, for their incredible hospitality and tireless efforts to make sure the 2016 Summit went off without a hitch. Special thanks also to FMO, the Dutch development bank, for their support.

In addition to IFC’s incredible support both on the Summit content and logistics, we thank them for the awesome Gala Dinner & Awards event, which took place at the Organization of American States. During the dinner we announced the winners of the 2016 Women’s Market Champion Awards. Congratulations to all the winners!

And finally, a heartfelt thank you to all our members, both for helping to make the 2016 Summit so productive and memorable, and for their unwavering commitment to sharing their know-how and best practices to further the cause of full financial inclusion for women. In addition to our six new members in 2016, we welcomed 13 prospective members to the Summit, two of which have signed up since! We invite all members to participate in our 2016-2017 GBA Mentoring Program. The application deadline has been extended to November 4th. If you are interested, email


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