Ghela Boskovich
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Ghela Boskovich Talks Gender Parity, Equality of Opportunity and “Top 100” Lists

“Top 100 Lists” are omnipresent in the data-driven clickbait factory that is today’s internet. Here, TFT asks for the Ghela Boskovich’s thoughts on the subject, her insights being made all the more topical by the fact that the founder of FemTechGlobal has just been included on such a list herself…

So, how does it feel to be named in Lattice 80’s Top 100 Women in Fintech list, Ghela?

It is a mixed bag of feelings: surprise, humility, honour, disconcertment. It’s lovely to be recognised for making a contribution to the industry, yet on my part there’s always a confusion as to why my contribution is considered more noteworthy than so many other women whom I look up to but are missing from the list. Seeing my name along side so many impressive women I admire and respect always gives me pause: why me and not someone else?

The other side of the coin is that it validates what I’m doing, it confirms that I’m on the right path in working with others to make a difference. It’s very much a case of “absolutely, all these women belong on this list – and more!” while doubting my own inclusion, especially since I believe there is more I could do to effect change.

It’s lovely to be recognised for making a contribution to the industry, yet on my part there’s always a confusion as to why my contribution is considered more noteworthy than so many other women whom I look up to but are missing from the list.

Lists are exclusionary by construct, and they risk becoming popularity contests and ego stroking mechanisms. At the same time, they can call attention to people who do great work but don’t always get the attention. Lists are a double-edged sword. I think every list should come with a disclaimer: “This is our opinion of who to pay attention to at the moment and is subject to change, is contextual, and is clearly not exhaustive”.

To what extent does fintech operate on a level playing field? Would you say that the space has equality of opportunity?

Nothing operates on a level playing field, there will always be a party who has an advantage. In fintech, gender parity is obviously skewed. Let’s talk stats: Women still only represent 30% of the fintech workforce,

Ghela Boskovich
Helene Panzarino (Lead Adjunct Fellow, Imperial College London)

only 12% of fintech founders are women, and women founders receive just 2% of venture capital. In fact, for every 1£ of VC investment, all-female founder teams get less than 1p.

There are so many reasons for this, from STEM pipeline in schools, to the pay gap, to culture, and there is no silver bullet that would fix it, or bulldozer that would level out the playing field.

On the other hand, I’d say there is equal opportunity for new and revolutionary ideas – they can come from anyone, anywhere.

Great ideas are in abundance; what is not in abundance is the same type of access to support to execute on those ideas. There is a myth that equal opportunity to do something equates to equal access to leverage those opportunities.

I’d say there is equal opportunity for new and revolutionary ideas – they can come from anyone, anywhere.

If you had to single out just one of your colleagues, whether on the list or not, for the exemplary work they’ve done in the past year, who would it be and why?

There are many who deserve recognition who are missing. Leda Glyptis for example, she’s building a new core banking system as CEO of the Foundry. That’s brash and bold. Helene Panzarino is another – she’s created a fintech masters education course and we worked together to launch a new commercially driven pilot program model this last year. Michelle Katics has done amazing work to bring risk simulation as a solution to market, and is educating banking staff around the world on how to manage risk better. Nejoud Al

Ghela Boskovich
Nejoud Al Mulaik (Director, Fintech Saudi)

Mulaik is breaking ground for both fintechs and women in Saudi.

I realise that lists are curated to be short and sweet; short and sweet means excluding phenomenal people doing revolutionary work. And therein lies the conundrum.

What measures need to be put in place at a governmental level to quicken the glacial pace of change?

Policy around education funding and STEM recruitment; policy that mandates parental leave for both mothers and fathers; policy that mandates better distribution of funding for entrepreneurs – from more fair risk assessment for lending to special funds for BAME and women founded SMEs.

Mandates for firms to be more public about their gender pay gap, and tax incentives to those companies who eliminate it. More protection for those who whistleblow on harassment and discrimination, and less reliance for closed-arbitration in those cases, as well as fewer punitive restrictions on going public/taking the case to court. These are just a few of the many measures that can drive the pace of change.

LATTICE 80’s list was produced in conjunction with a “lifestyle driven financial platform for the modern woman.” Do you find such associations detrimental to the cause of women in finance?

No. In financial services we’re moving towards hyper personalisation of products and markets – women happen to be a huge market, considering women make 80% of all household financial decisions. Yes, the Miss Kaya app [the aforementioned lifestyle driven financial platform] targets women, but it focuses on improving financial literacy, as well as money and investment management. It’s fundamentally no different from other PFM fintech offerings that do budget optimisation or make investing more accessible to the masses.

In financial services we’re moving towards hyper personalisation of products and markets – women happen to be a huge market, considering women make 80% of all household financial decisions.

“Lifestyle” only has pejorative connotations when applied to women. Like wanting to save for a Fendi handbag is worse than saving up for a Ferrari (stereotypes be damned). Irrespective of gender, race, orientation or ethnicity everyone wants the same money outcomes: to be financially secure, to understand how money works and build some wealth, to maximise the impact of the money they do have on their quality of life, and to know that they will remain solvent should a crisis happen.

Money affords us a type of lifestyle, and despite lifestyle being synonymous with consumerism, the end objective is with these types of platforms is to enable the consumer to better understand money and how to manage the money they have. 

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