Board diversity at fintechs and P2P lenders “disappointing” 

By John Reynolds on Tuesday 28 January 2020

Alternative LendingDigital BankingSavings and Investment

Research from AltFi shows just 20 per cent of directors across eight leading companies are female, while nine per cent are from a BAME background.

Board diversity at fintechs and P2P lenders “disappointing” 
Image source: Image provided by Pixabay.

The number of women on the boards of top fintech and peer-to-peer companies has been dubbed "disappointing", despite improvements made by leading companies to make their boards more diverse.

Commentators have urged leading fintech and P2P companies to increase their efforts to appoint more female executives and individuals from a BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) background as directors.

It comes as research by AltFi shows that 20 per cent of directors across eight leading fintech and P2P companies are female while nine per cent are from a BAME background.

The percentages are an increase on 2016, when eight per cent were female and eight per cent from a BAME background.

However, critics of the fintech industry say still too few women work in the industry, which also has too few female founders.

Juliette Souliman, Partner & Chief Commercial Officer, Cred Investments and a member of Innovate Finance’s Women in Fintech Powerlist, told AltFi: "Twenty per cent female representation on boards is disappointing and shows a clear lack of inclusion and diversity in the sector. Diversity and inclusion should be a KPI for performance.”

"I'd love to see more females and BAME represented in boards, with visibility and a true voice to inspire a more diverse and inclusive generation to build all together this new industry that is fintech.”

Ben Rosen, CEO of recruitment agency InspiringInterns, which works with fintechs, believes change is afoot.

He said: “Our fintech clients are actively requesting for more diversity. There is a strong awareness by fintech leaders that diversity is key.”

Here, AltFi takes a look at the board of directors of eight leading fintech and P2P companies, comparing their current composition to their composition in 2016.

Monzo

Board of directors as of January 2020: 10 executives, including three women and one from a BAME background.

Board of directors as of January 2016: Eight executives, including three women, none from a BAME background.

Starling Bank

Board of directors as of January 2020:10 executives, including three women, none from a BAME background.

Board of directors as of January 2016:10 executives, including two women, none from a BAME background.

Revolut

Board of directors as of January 2020: Seven executives, including one woman, none from a BAME background.

Board of directors as of January 2016: One executive, including no women, none from a BAME background.

Metro Bank

Board of directors as of January 2020:11 executives, including three women, one from a BAME background.

Board of directors as of January 2016: 10 executives, including no women, none from a BAME background.

Zopa

Group board as of January 2020: 10 executives, including one woman, two from a BAME background.

Holding board as of January 2016: Seven executives, including no women, one from a BAME background.

RateSetter

Board of directors as of January 2020: Seven executives, including no women, none from a BAME background.

Board of directors as of January 2016: Seven executives, including no women, none from a BAME background.

Tide

Tide Platform board as of January 2020: Five executives, including one woman, none from a BAME background.

Tide Platform board as of January 2016: Five executives, including one woman, none from a BAME background.

Funding Circle

Board of directors as of January 2020: 10 executives, including two women, two from a BAME background.

Board of directors as of January 2016: 10 executives, including no women, two from a BAME background.

Experts give their verdict

Why does it matter if boards don’t have a strong representation of women and people from a BAME background?

Gareth Elsmore, fintech recruitment executive, ISL Recruitment.

“It matters greatly if boards don’t have a strong representation of females and people from BAME backgrounds as this will affect diversity through each layer of an organisation.”

“If a board has more women and BAME representatives it will naturally attract more people from these backgrounds from trainee level up to senior management.”

“In fintech it’s important to have a diverse workforce because this will bring a variety of ideas and create products that are more diverse for a diverse audience. It’s proven a greater diversity in tech leads to increased productivity and profitability within an organisation.”

Juliette Souliman, Partner & Chief Commercial Officer, Cred Investments.

“If one agrees that the fintech start-ups of today are the financial institutions of the future, then it is crucial that every voice needs to be heard to build a fairer and empowering financial sector for everybody.”

“I truly think that the products and companies that will thrive are the one that put their customers at the centre of their value proposition. Being customer-centric, having the ability to clearly understand your customers, require to have the correct insights.”

“I firmly believe that by excluding females and BAME leaders, companies exclude de facto those precious insights to fully understand their customers. The true winners of the sector will be companies that develop tailored experiences for all their customers."

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