New award to recognise female fintech leaders

A new award has been created to celebrate the contribution of women to Australia’s fintech industry, amid concerns that only one in eight fintech leaders are females.

FinTech Australia today announced that it had created a Female FinTech Leader of the Year award as part of its inaugural Finnies awards being held on 24 May.

This will be in addition to an existing Finnies Excellence in Workplace Diversity Award, which covers all forms of diversity in the workplace.

“Australia has a number of excellent female fintech industry leaders and we are keen to reward and recognise one of these leaders as part of the Finnies,” said FinTech Australia CEO Danielle Szetho.

“Unfortunately, the latest figures show that women are under-represented in our industry, particularly in leadership roles.

“We hope this award will help highlight the great work of women in our industry and therefore encourage more women to get into fintech either as company founders or employees.

“I encourage the fintech community to come forward and nominate women who have made a difference. Importantly, you can nominate someone without letting them know beforehand.”

A series of recent reports have underlined the concerning state of female participation in the fintech and startup industry, both in Australia and overseas. For instance:

  • The EY FinTech Australia Census 2016 published in November last year found just 13 per cent of Australian fintech company or organisation leaders are female, while just 22 per cent of all fintech employees are female.
  • The 2016 Startup Muster report found that just 23.5% of Australian startup companies are founded by females, although this figure has improved from 16.1% in 2014.
  • The same report found that 47.5% of startup companies had no full-time female employees.
  • The Women in UK Financial Services 2016 report by New Financial found that, in the UK, just seven per cent of fintech boards were made up of women, with 16 per cent of executive committee members made up of women.
  • The Inno Tribe Power Women in FinTech Index reported that, in 2015, there was just one female CEO out of the top 50 fintech firms across the European Union.
  • A 2014 study by McKinsey & Company that tracked 366 public companies in the US, Canada, UK, Brazil, Mexico and Chile found a 15 per cent increase in financial returns above their national industry median for companies with higher gender diversity leadership numbers.

This is the first year the Finnies are being held. They are the first industry-backed fintech awards to be held in Australia. Jobs for NSW has provided $80,000 for a two-year sponsorship of the Finnies.

“Congratulations to Fintech Australia for introducing a Finnies award to celebrate the contribution of women to Australia’s fintech industry, helping to highlight female participation in the industry,” said Jobs for NSW CEO Karen Borg.

“Jobs for NSW’s support for the Finnies aims to promote growth of our fintech industry which is an exciting segment of our startup ecosystem with great potential to drive digital revolution in financial services.

“The Finnie Awards will showcase the leading achievements from our fintech sector focusing on innovators and trailblazers who demonstrate long term vision in building sustainable business growth.”

With the addition of Female FinTech of the Year, there are now a total of 30 award categories on offer for the 2017 Finnies, across the fields of People, Culture and Talent, Growth Mindset and Global Perspective and Excellence in Business.

FinTech Australia President Simon Cant said: “These are the first fintech industry-backed awards to be held in Australia and will help us showcase our best industry trail-blazers as well as the most exciting emerging ventures and talent.”

Claire Wivell Plater, who is a Finnies judge and founder of The Fold Legal, (pictured above) said she was excited to see that FinTech Australia was responding to the female participation issue.

“Although fewer women have STEM backgrounds at the moment, the Startup Muster report amply demonstrates that fintech companies need skills in a broad range of areas, in many of which women are well represented,” Ms Wivell Plater said.

“What’s more, it makes business sense – 50 per cent of the customer base are women, so it’s little wonder that businesses with gender diverse leadership enjoy greater success.”

Entries close 21 April. Further information about the Finnies is available here