Women in Finance Network: Women supporting each other can transform an industry

 

Over 60 professional women braved the chilly Gauteng winter weather to attend the most recent Women in Finance Network event early in June. The focus of the evening was on meeting women in financial services, and finding ways to support each other and share experiences.

Started in October 2013, the Women in Finance Network is a celebration and sharing of women in financial services in South Africa. In an industry that has seen fewer female players, Certified Financial Planner® and Life Planner, Kim Potgieter, wanted to create a platform where women could gather, exchange expertise and mentor each other. Though the initial focus of the group was on financial planners, it has evolved to include the broader financial services industry.

Sponsored by Old Mutual, the June Gauteng event was a gathering of the wider network, and took a speed-dating and round table format with each attendee networking at various tables throughout the evening. The tables were hosted by well-known financial services leaders including Caroline da Silva and Leanne Jackson of the FSB, Sherma Malan of the FPI, and women leaders from various companies. The inspiring and practical discussions were interrupted only for savouring the delicious meal at The Corner Café, Craighall.

Introducing the event and hosts, Kim said that when she entered the industry, and when she attends industry events she sees more men than women. But women are great financial planners, have tremendous value to add to financial services, and as many guests commented – women clients are extremely efficient at managing money.

Networking has always been seen as an area where women excel, and Caroline da Silva shared that women are excellent at building external networks, while men are better at internal networks. “This Network is crucial,” she commented.

Sherma Malan said building relationships and supporting each other was important and the Women in Finance Network is an “awesome network” and a place where women can share information.

Networks are very important,” said Simone Arnold of Investec. “Women are often uncomfortable sharing their successes – we need to be proud of these and blow our own trumpets.”

Host, Nina Lowes shared her thoughts: “Women have drawn on networks for support since time immemorial. Grannies, mothers, aunts, sisters, friends, co-workers, co-owners, we draw on each other’s experiences and use them to form our own attitudes and driving forces in the world. Out of these groups have grown movements and legislation for women’s rights such as the National Union of Women’s Suffrage founded by Millicent Fawcett in 1897 right down to our own Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill of November 2013. We live in 2015 and on 29 May this year history was made in Nigeria with the banning of female genital mutilation. Something so basic to women’s human rights was only banned about 10 days ago. Think about it. The women in this room may operate in a different place and a different space but the change in Nigeria came from women pushing for transformation from both within and outside.

“Why do we need a women’s network in the financial services industry? For the same reason, for women to support and mentor other women and share their experiences so as to continue to overcome not only hurdles to entry but hurdles to staying power. It is a microcosm of larger picture of transformation.”

The Cape Town event of the Women in Finance Network will be held on 30 July, and the next Gauteng event is planned for August.

Follow the Women in Finance Network on Linkedin, and like their Facebook page Women in Finance.

For more details, contact Holly: [email protected] 011 502 2800

Kim Potgieter,Women in Finance Network