Campbell & Fletcher Recruitment is extremely proud to have signed the Women in Finance Charter, which supports the progression of women into senior roles in the financial services sector.
We managed to catch up with Metro Bank’s Hannah-Louise Smith about the challenges of being a woman in the finance and banking industry.
CFR: Tell us about your life in the finance and banking industry so far.
HLS: I worked at Merrill Lynch in Chicago as part of my year in industry during university, which gave me a taste for banking. I then joined RBS Commercial as a portfolio manager, just before the financial crisis of 2008. I went on to work in a number of financial markets and business development roles at Lloyds Bank, before setting up a national deposits business development team.
I then joined Metro Bank, where I reported to managing director Mark Stokes at c-suite level and enjoyed the opportunity to build business development, relationship and cash management teams. I regularly attended the executive committee’s meetings to update on trading performance and strategic initiatives. This fast paced, dynamic environment was challenging but also very exciting and enjoyable!
CFR: Have you ever felt that your career progression was being hampered by being a woman? What key challenges have you faced?
HLS: One of the biggest challenges facing women in banking is ourselves! I’ve always found women tend to be confidence players – that’s reflecting on myself and my teams, as I’ve supported their talent and progression. It’s not a bad thing at all to be humble, on the contrary, but a little more confidence to ask for that job or that pay rise would help us to help ourselves. Imposter syndrome creeps in and we second guess ourselves.
If we look at a job specification, we focus on what we haven’t done before. Men, in my experience, tend to look at what they can do and go into an interview with confidence. This is where role models and sponsors come in. I wouldn’t say I had many female role models in the banking industry but I’ve certainly had fabulous friends, mentors and sponsors who have helped me to become a better me!
CFR: What is the one most important thing you have learned over your career?
HLS: Work really hard and make your boss look good! Relationships are key and you’ll find those sponsors along the way who will help you progress when the time is right.
CFR: Do you feel the greater clarity and understanding of gender inequality, thanks to initiatives such as the Women in Finance Charter, have helped?
HLS: Absolutely, these networks are really helpful for us to educate ourselves and support other women. Women should help each other and in the words of [two-time Olympic gold medallist] Abby Wambach in her Wolfpack speech, “Be the wolf and champion each other!”
CFR: What is your piece of advice for women looking to be successful in finance or banking?
HLS: Work hard and don’t be afraid of letting people know what you have achieved (even better if others sing your praises instead!), build relationships and champion other women.
Campbell & Fletcher Recruitment is passionate about supporting women to fulfil their potential in the workplace. In addition to the Women in Finance Charter, it has chosen to support the charity SmartWorks (www.smartworks.org.uk), which assists women from a range of different backgrounds and age groups back into employment.