08 Mar Women in finance: A vice-president’s perspective
Women are increasingly taking their place in Canadian finance, but the glass ceiling is not quite shattered. On International Women’s Day, Croesus spoke to one woman who has broken through, Marjorie Minet, Executive Vice-President, Wealth Management Advisory Services at Desjardins.
Women hold nearly 50% of middle management positions across Canada’s six largest banks, according to the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA). That’s an enviable figure compared to the rest of the world. In the United States, for example, women hold only 24% of management positions, according to Deloitte.
However, the situation in Canada is still far from ideal. When it comes to senior bank executives, women accounted for only 37.9% of positions in 2019 and 39% of boards in 2020, again according to the CBA.
“The more diversity there is at the executive level, the more representative organizations will be of their communities, and the more relevant and financially successful they will be in achieving their missions,” says Minet, who prefers to approach the subject from the perspective of a situation that is gradually and tangibly improving in Canada.
Q. Why are women important in the industry?
M.M. Because the industry must be representative of the diversity of the people it serves. Canadian women are increasingly involved in their finances, with 69% giving it a “high or top priority.”
The financial security of Canadian women and their families is paramount. Their values must be reflected in their financial planning and asset management. At some point in their lives, 9 out of 10 Canadian women take sole responsibility for their personal financial well-being.
The growing presence of women in our industry is one of the driving forces behind addressing women’s priorities in managing their wealth and pursuing their financial independence based on their values and circumstances.
Q. What do women bring to the industry?
M.M. More than the profession itself, it is the whole notion of wealth management for women that is an essential subject whose importance should not be minimized.
According to Strategic Insights, only 31% of Canadian women feel they are financially literate and 75% wish they had gotten involved with their finances sooner.
We clearly have a major role to play in the financial independence of Canadian women. This goes beyond our personal careers. First and foremost, we need to educate our advisors to involve women in family wealth management. We need to make them aware of the specific challenges that women face in building their wealth, but without falling into clichés. Each woman’s personal, family, professional, and financial situation is unique, as are her goals, dreams, and expectations.
Q. What are the main barriers for women in finance?
M.M. I think we are talking less and less about barriers and more and more about solutions. This is probably because our organizations are becoming more and more representative of their communities.
The solutions are also less and less related to a person’s gender, but rather to the responsibilities they take on. A few years ago, work-family balance was mostly a woman’s issue, but now it is a topic that concerns parents, both women and men.
Q. When you meet young women just starting out in the business, what advice do you give them?
M.M. Never put psychological barriers on what you are able to accomplish in your professional life and in your life in general!
In finance, let’s never forget that beyond the numbers, we have a great responsibility for the well-being of families. We provide them with expert and supportive guidance throughout their lives so that everyone can reach their goals and realize their dreams. It’s an extraordinary job!