Of all the ways to drive positive change, one of the most impactful is finance. Money makes the world go round, as they say, influencing our careers, our housing and healthcare options, our relationships, and even our physical well-being.
Since our earliest days at Statement, we’ve had a passion for partnering with brands working to solve big financial challenges. We’ve helped our clients deliver affordable life insurance to families, improve inclusion in the investing space, and advance financial health at scale.
Along the way, we noticed something that surprised and delighted us. In an industry where men still hold 76% of the executive roles, many of the trailblazers and innovators we encountered were women.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we spoke with some truly exceptional women in marketing and executive roles across the finance industry about forging paths to leadership, overcoming imposter syndrome, and making marketing more empathetic and impactful. We turned their insights into “Women in Finance,” a series of Q&As that dives deep into what it takes to lead a successful and authentic career as a woman in finance today.
Want to skip straight to the highlights? Here are some of the biggest takeaways they shared.
Social impact is a growing focus among fintechs and financial institutions alike. But for the women we interviewed, improving people’s well-being has long been a way of life. Amelia Chen, Head of Marketing at Array, says succeeding both in finance and in the “tech for good” space takes a similar trait: tenacity.
“I was instantly attracted to how dynamic the community was, how passionate everybody seemed to be about solving challenging issues, and how resilient people were in taking on big meaty problems,” she says.
And while tackling challenges like wealth inequity or making education more affordable takes grit, it can also make the day-to-day work more energizing and fulfilling.
“I will never work for a company now where I don’t believe in the mission,” says Laura Fitzpatrick, Senior Director of Marketing and New Business Strategy at Climb Credit. “It’s so much easier to promote a product and organization that you know is making a positive difference in people’s lives.”
Would you put the term “Feminist” in your business name? It took years for Carolyn McMahon, founder of FemFinance, to take that leap – and she says it’s one of the best business decisions she’s made.
By building her brand to reflect her values and work practices, McMahon says she’s been able to connect with her ideal clients and community faster.
“Being brave enough to allow that harmonization of the two has been quite rewarding,” she says.
Improving representation for women takes a collective effort, and the women we spoke to say they’re seeing encouraging signs of progress. A big part of advancement, though, is learning to conquer your own self-doubt.
Fitzpatrick vividly remembers being pulled aside by a male colleague early in her career after asking a group of executives which direction they preferred for a marketing initiative.
“He said, ‘You are the leader of marketing. You are the only person here who's educated in this area. You need to tell everyone what they need to do, not ask them.’ It was really good feedback to hear,” she recounts.
Showing up with confidence can be gut-wrenching at times, which is where Chen says her coach and network of other professional women often come to her aid.
“We shouldn’t be afraid to lean on each other in times like these, when we're having a tough time thinking through something,” she says. “Other people have probably been through the same situation, and their perspectives can help.”
What got you to a certain phase of your career – raising your hand for every new project, pulling late nights to get it all done – won’t carry you through the next one, Fitzpatrick says. As the leader of Climb’s marketing team, she’s learned to delegate and say no to certain opportunities to create space for the real needle-movers.
That philosophy also extends to marketing programs. For Fawziah Bajwa, Vice President, Marketing Operations for the Financial Health Network, 2023 is about prioritizing activities that balance impact and efficiency.
“We’re spending a lot of time thinking about what’s really moving the needle and making sure that’s where our time and energy goes,” she says. “[For example, our events] are coming back in person with a vengeance this year, because we see that demand across our sponsors and our audience.”
Have a business book or course that you keep hitting the snooze button on? Remember: No one will prioritize your growth but yourself.
“We’re never done with our work. There’s never a point where you feel like, ‘OK, now I know everything about marketing,’” Chen says. “Ultimately, [investing in professional development is] a way of … elevating yourself and your work.”
For McMahon, that commitment to growth includes testing new offerings like the recently launched FemFinance PepTalks. The program offers free coaching to women around salary negotiation, giving her team a new and fulfilling outlet to address financial inequity that could one day turn into a bigger service.
“We are hugely gratified by the stories of women putting these skills into practice to feel more powerful in their financial lives,” she says.
These stories are just the beginning – read our full Q&As with these forward-thinking women on our blog.
Have a woman in finance you admire? Watch our Instagram and LinkedIn for more content on our favorite women leaders, then tell us about some of yours!