I do a lot of work with the financial industry. Smart companies get that they need to do a better job of selling to women. But it's also important to have women on your management and leadership teams. It's not only good for the consumer, it's good for the company.
Here's Halla Tomasdottir, the co-founder and chairman of Audur Capital, a financial services firm based in Iceland to explain why.
Halla Tomasdottir founded Audur Capital along with Kristin Petursdottir, a former investment banker, just over a year before Iceland suffered an almost complete economic meltdown in the fall of 2008. Audur Capital got through the eye of the financial storm without experiencing direct losses to their own equity or to their clients' funds under management.
What did Halla Tomasdottir and her team at Audur Capital do diffeferently?
Halla Tomasdottir said a key was not going with the herd, and instead, following their values. She explained her strategy in the article – Making Money Without Testosterone.
We founded Audur Capital, based upon values that made more sense to us. These values are:
— Independence. We make sure that we always provide unbiased advice to our clients and remain true to our mission.
— Risk awareness. We make sure we understand the risks we take and that we never invest in things we don't understand.
— Straight talk. We do not overcomplicate things and we tell people the truth, sharing the downside and the upside in a straightforward and simple manner.
— Emotional capital. We find emotional due diligence to be just as important as financial due diligence. After all, it's people and not Excel spreadsheets who make the profits.
— Profit with principles. We care about how we make our profit, and we are willing to take a long-term view and include social and environmental considerations in our definition of profits. This was common sense to us, but unfortunately at the time, common sense was not all that common.
While more than 90% of the banking sector collapsed, and shareholders and clients experienced significant losses, Audur Capital got through without experiencing direct losses to their own equity or to their clients' funds under management. As Halla Tomasdottir put it:
We told people the truth about our concerns about the system and generally advised them to adopt a risk-aware investment strategy for what we thought would be turbulent times. I guess you could say that we took a hard look at the data — both the financial data and the emotional data — and decided to play it safe until things would make more sense again instead of going with the herd.
We need more balance in financial leadership
My long-time mantra is that we need more balance of male and female leadership, especially in the financial world.
Diversity is beneficial to both the organization and its members. Diversity brings substantial potential benefits, such as, better decision making, improved problem solving, greater creativity and innovation; which leads to enhanced product development, and more successful marketing to different types of customers.
I hope 2011 is the year we see more diversity, more balance between men and women, and better results for customers and companies as a result. The financial companies who take advantage of these opportunities are the companies who are going to win.