Francesca Hopwood Road, head of regtech at the FCA drilled down on how the hiring process structurally worked against the employment of females in regtech during the Regtech Women’s event ‘Cracking Communications: Be effective, be confident, be compliant’.
Buoyed by the wake of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2020, the afternoon brought together leading female minds this week to explore the regtech landscape and women’s’ place in it.
In reference to commencing her own position at the FCA, Hopwood Road explained: “When I joined the team, I was the only woman in a ten-strong management team. Our data scientist population was largely male, and women were in more junior roles. This was true across our regtech and data science teams.”
Hopwood Road was dissatisfied with this imbalance and committed herself to improving the representation of females within the division and across the organisation in a coordinated, thoughtful manner. If the regulator doesn’t step up on the matter - why would the industry it oversees?
“My observation is testament to this; there is a very strong and diverse group of women in the regtech fields…[So] I recognised first of all that I had a voice, and I used it to explicitly set a tone of what was important and why I use my leverage as a senior leader.”
With over 200 regulatory updates every day, keeping up with regulatory change is more demanding than ever before. Further to this, with non-compliance bearing the risk of not only reputational damage, but also significant financial penalties.
There has never been a greater need for the development of technology around identifying, interpreting, applying and implementing regulatory updates across financial services. Women can and should be bringing their expertise to this area.
Recognising the differences in the way men and women present their technical skills and making small but effective changes such as tweaking FCA interview processes have allowed female candidates to perform in line with their capacity. It is widely documented that examples such as these are a considerable obstacle to bringing female into male dominated spheres such as financial services and technology.
When questioned about being labelled a ‘senior leader’, Hopwood Road responded: “When I was young, I really looked up to people who were more senior to me - their experience, their knowledge, the way they operated. And that makes me very conscious of the shadow I cast because whether I like it or not I do have a shadow that is being cast both over my team and more broadly, so I don’t wear this lightly.”