Anne Boden on supporting female fintech founders

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Anne Boden on supporting female fintech founders


This content is contributed or sourced from third parties but has been subject to Finextra editorial review.

For International Women’s Day (IWD) this year, we spoke to a woman who is the poster child of female success in the fintech world, Anne Boden.

In June of last year, Boden stepped down as CEO of Starling after founding the challenger bank 10 years prior.

Yet Boden has been busy recently. Last week she launched her third bookFemale Founders’ Playbook: Insights from the superwomen who made It and released a report from the Women-Led High-Growth Enterprise Taskforce which she headed.

I spoke with her about where we’re going wrong for female fintech entrepreneurs and how we can improve the situation.

The book and the taskforce

Boden’s new book really acts as a companion piece to the findings of the taskforce.

The taskforce was started 18 months ago, with the aim of trying to improve the disparity in funding available to female-only businesses. The report states that for every £1 of equity investment in the UK, only 2p goes to fully female-founded businesses, just 2%, which has not changed in the past decade.

Even within a founding team composed of men and women, there are still gaps. Boden comments: “When they go to female-balanced teams, is surprising how much of that equity goes to the male part of the team rather than the female part of the team.”

The taskforce was also targeting the lack of women-led high-growth enterprises, this disparity in this can be seen in the diagram below.

Source: Women-Led High-Growth Enterprise Taskforce

The report presents seven “opportunities” which the taskforce has recognised:

  1. Ensure that “women-led high-growth enterprises” are truly led by women
  2. Improve diversity of senior investment professionals
  3. Increase signatories to the Investing in Women Code
  4. Drive inclusive behaviour through regulation, monitoring, and action by investors
  5. Roll out Female Founder Growth Boards across the regions of England
  6. Inspire girls and women to become high-growth entrepreneurs
  7. Improve data collection and research in key areas identified

Boden said that the book came from working on the taskforce, because while talking to people she often heard the story that when founders started the process of creating their companies, they didn’t know what to do. Boden adds: “It’s a playbook for everyone, but it’s told by successful women because things are a little different for us.”

She emphasised the ostracising environment saying: “you’re either in the in-crowd, or you’re not.”

This can often lead to those who aren’t in-the-know not gaining valuable information, as Boden describes: “Those people who have started businesses before network with each other and know how it all works. They tend to typically be men. It’s very difficult getting into that inside group.”

The hope is the book will be able to alleviate some of these knowledge gaps.

The book contains contributions from leading women in fintech including June Angelides, Investor at Samos Investments, and founder of Mums In Tech and Levare Ventures; Zandra Moore, CEO and co-founder at Panintelligence; Deepali Nangia, partner at Speedinvest and co-founder of Alma Angels; Sam Smith, founder of finnCap Group; and Check Warner, founding partner of Ada Ventures.

Funding more women entrepreneurs

Chapter seven of the taskforce report recommends a series of strategies to break down the barriers to female entrepreneurs of high-growth businesses.

The report states: “Attributes like ethnicity, neurodiversity, disability, sexual orientation, to name a few, can present even greater barriers to women hoping to start and scale high-growth enterprises. In all cases though, outdated structures and old-fashioned beliefs continue to hold back many women from reaching their full potential.”

A key emphasis of this chapter is to fuel and fund high-growth enterprises fairly.

The report points out that there are ultimately fewer female led businesses, those businesses are less likely then male-led ones to seek funding, and when they do receive for funding it is in smaller amounts than their male counterparts.

This picture becomes worse for women of different backgrounds. The taskforce reports that between 2009 and 2019 only 10 female black founders received VC funding, making up just 0.02% of total VC funding.

Boden comments: “The lots of parts of our society now has rules and regulations and laws that hold people to account. The VC world is not subject to those rules.”

Part of the solution to this, other than pressuring VC firms to do more, is to ensure that more high-growth enterprises are woman-led. For the taskforce woman-led does not mean that the team is all women or majority women, but that at least one of the top three positions at an organisation should be held by a woman who holds a fair proportion of founder and employee equity share.

Adding to this, they recommend the improvement of diversity in senior management professionals. This is because female founders tend to gain more investment from female investors.

Potential for women in industry 5.0

Another place for growth Boden emphasised was the role women could play in the ‘next industrial revolution’.

She says: “We’re about to experience industry 5.0. This is the next industrial revolution. In every previous industrial revolution, one to four, women were there at the beginning, but as soon as things got interesting we were brushed out of the way and instead of actually leading and managing, ended up using the tools rather than managing the tools.”

Boden notes that this next phase will be focused far more on technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning, she comments: “We've also got the additional change that the world going forward is not going to depend on technology skills and coding skills, because AI is going to do that. So there’s no reason why in industry 5.0 women shouldn’t play an equal part.”

She points to the government’s aim of being a technological superpower by 2030, she states: “Are we going to aim for that with one hand tied behind our back by only having men's ideas and men's businesses, or are we going to increase the 2% so women can play an equal part."

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This content is contributed or sourced from third parties but has been subject to Finextra editorial review.