The financial industry has come a long way in promoting gender diversity and empowering women to take on leadership roles. The Most Powerful Women in Banking Conference (MPWIB), a premier event in the industry, recently gathered influential female leaders to share their insights and strategies for garnering more C-suite positions for women. Here, we’ll delve into some key takeaways from the conference, highlighting women’s path to leadership, as well as industry innovation and the importance of empathy in banking.

The path to leadership: Authenticity and self-confidence

One of the recurring themes at the conference was the importance of authenticity and self-confidence for those who seek leadership roles. Women were encouraged to “get comfortable in their own skin” and bring their true, authentic selves to their careers. It was emphasized that, for some people, seemingly insignificant bumps in the road can create more self-doubt than large obstacles. These feelings of “imposter syndrome” often surface when someone takes a chance on you, and you feel unworthy of the opportunity.

To help women achieve more C-suite positions, companies were advised to:

Have a champion: Encourage and provide support for women through mentors and sponsors who champion women’s career growth.

Foundational family benefits: Offer family-friendly benefits that provide a solid support system for women’s career development.

Wellness and mental health: Prioritize employees’ well-being by promoting mental health and flexibility, recognizing that work-life integration is often more realistic than work-life balance.

Authentic leadership: Develop leaders who are authentic, available, approachable, and prioritize people and culture.

Employee feedback: Actively seek and implement feedback from employees on what is important to them and what keeps them in the organization.

Prioritize strengths: Focus on nurturing your strengths rather than fixating on weaknesses. This strategy allows women to embrace their talents and excel in what sets them apart.

Mentorship and collaboration: Encourage women to bring others up with them as they climb the corporate ladder.

Implementing innovation: Adapting to change

Innovation was a prominent theme at the conference, highlighting the importance of understanding objectives and adjusting to change quickly. The right team plays a significant role in promoting innovation, and celebrating success is crucial for recognizing individual contributions. During times of change, it’s essential to support new ideas and be open to shifts in vision.

Keynote insights from Mary Erodes, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Mary Erdoes, a prominent leader in the financial services industry, shared her eight keys to success:

      1. Become a subject matter expert (SME): Specialize and excel in one area.
      2. Attitude matters: Embrace challenging situations with a positive attitude.
      3. Ownership of mistakes: Take responsibility for your actions and decisions.
      4. Organization: Reflect your company’s culture through your own personal level of organization.
      5. Time management: Establish a 24-hour rule for returning voicemails, and manage your calendar efficiently.
      6. Authenticity: Take your job seriously, but maintain authenticity.
      7. Professional appearance: Dressing appropriately reflects respect for yourself and your organization.
      8. Adapt to change: Embrace change and the opportunities it presents.

Dynamic customer needs: The human element

Empathy and understanding were at the forefront when discussing customer and community impact. Meeting people’s core needs across generational, life-stage, and geographical differences is essential. This “customer obsession” should focus on what the customer truly wants, going beyond transactional interactions to create personalized experiences. Organizations must understand that the employee experience, including streamlining internal systems and processes, plays a crucial role in ensuring a positive customer experience.

Career advancement and empowering leadership

Diversity in leadership, including recruiting more women for C-suite roles, was stressed as a means of fostering different viewpoints in handling challenges. A part of leadership is learning to expect the unexpected, and it’s important to handle breakdown moments effectively. In certain situations, AI can be a valuable tool if thoughtfully and ethically implemented.

Upskilling for a successful tomorrow

Identifying skill gaps across an organization and aligning them with strategies also was a recurring theme of the MPWIB conference. Recognizing and nurturing internal talent, especially during crises, was a key focus. Humanity in leadership is essential, emphasizing the importance of providing guidance, being a constant listener, and asking better questions.

Promoting more equity in financial services

The Most Powerful Women in Banking Conference provided a wealth of knowledge and inspiration for women in the financial services industry, and Vertical IQ was pleased to be a part of the conversation.

The insights and strategies shared during the conference were intended to empower more women to pursue leadership roles, promote innovation, and prioritize empathy in banking, ultimately shaping a more diverse and inclusive financial sector. As we move forward, these lessons serve as a beacon of hope, guiding the industry towards a brighter and more equitable future.

Congratulations to his year’s recipients of the Most Powerful Women in Banking recognition. You can view the list of honorees here.

>> Learn more about how Industry Intelligence from Vertical IQ can help banks build trusted advisor status with their clients.

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