As the CEO of HSBC, Stuart Guilliver blasted the banking industry for not having enough women at boardroom level this month; Holly Parmenter speaks to some of the private banks leading women to find out how the industry is changing for the better.

Speaking at a conference in Hong Kong about women in work, Stuart Gulliver revealed that HSBC has set a target for women’s representation in senior management to reach 25% by 2015.

Gulliver said women employees at HSBC are in ‘reasonable shape against the rest of the financial sector’ as 4 of the 17 board members at the bank are women.

In response to Gulliver’s speech, female colleagues said 4 women on a board of 17 people did not express the experiences of the 125,000 women in the rest of the organisation. They added that HSBC should value their female workers for their talents and achievements, not their gender.

Joseph F. Keefe, CEO of investment management firm, Pax World Investment, made a similar statement this month suggesting that the ‘smartest companies’ are those who take full advantage of ‘the talents, ideas and contributions of women’.

With women such as Metro Bank’s Kirsty McArthur working senior positions at the age of 34, it appears that the talents and achievements of women are certainly leading them to excel within large firms.

This month The State Bank of India appointed Arundhati Bhattacharya as their first ever woman chairman.

Meanwhile recent UK government figures released this year showed that 19% of directors were female, up from 12.5% in 2011. The Government has set an ambitious target of 25% by 2015.

Citi Private Bank’s COO Dena Brumpton, JP Morgan’s MD Tracy Maeter and founder of Barclays’ Private Banking, Heather Maizels, sit down for a Q&A to talk about controversial issues surrounding the gender of the private banking industry.

 

Women head up no fewer than 10 of the biggest names in private banking and are responsible for more than $1trillion in personal investments and trusts. How do you think men and women differ when it comes to private banking?

Maizels: Generally speaking men want to ‘get things done’. I have advised women for some time, and generally speaking women as investors behave differently. Obviously this does not apply to everybody, but women tend to enquire more, do more research, ask more questions, make their decision carefully, and then stay with that decision. They are loyal to their advisers. Women tend to want to make sure investments are safe and ring fenced in some way to give them financial choices at a later stage, and their own independence.

Maeter: I do think that one of the differentiators for a really good private banker is somebody who listens, as opposed to telling the client what is the best solution or option. Women are certainly on a level or better playing field on that front.

Brumpton: I think women tend to be patient and they sometimes have a lot of tenacity in business – but in a nice way- which is a tremendous asset.

 

The number of women working in senior positions within the private banking industry has increased drastically. Looking back to the start of your career, how would you say you have seen this movement unfold?

Brumpton: If you went back to the same office I worked in in Japan today you would see many women in executive and professional positions. There may still be room for improvement, but you’d see a much greater gender balance in the office.

I think private banking for women and men alike is a great career choice. It’s really gratifying to see significantly more women in the industry today than when I started my career.

Maizels: There are a number of women now in the business and that’s partly because of the natural progression of women coming through, it’s also a lot of the work that the big players have done around a family friendly practice.

Maeter: When I joined I was taking on part of the book from a very seasoned private banker who was retiring, and I looked across the floor and there were so many examples of very successful women in that role. It was perfect; they were all at different stages of their careers and some like me, fairly young and starting out, to those who had been in the industry for a long time. I feel I have been fortunate to have always had those role models around me.

 

Being in such a senior position, how do you find the balance between personal commitments and your working schedule?

Maizels: Some people talk in terms of a work life balance, and see these as separate. For me it’s more holistic. My working life is unstructured. It fits around the lives clients lead, and my own. Sharing interests with clients, in my case Art is part of this. Family philanthropy is also part of this. Private banking suits this holistic approach – it fits with clients, and with family life.

Maeter: I’ve been to a number of sessions where women talk about work life balance and one of the descriptions I quite like is that, well it really isn’t a balance, its more that you can prioritise and make them co-exist very well together; that you can integrate the two aspects.

 

What has led you to such a senior position?

Brumpton: Working in Citi Private Bank is tremendously rewarding because it represents a microcosm of everything Citi offers across the retail and institutional businesses. Citi has an amazing platform, and if you’re prepared to put the time and energy in you can’t help but excel, because all the ingredients here allow you to do it.

Because I have a mantra that there is no such thing as a bad decision, just another decision, I’ve had the confidence to take risks in my career. I truly believe that if you’re not enjoying your job, change it

Maeter: It’s all about the focus that you have on the role and this trait is what really marks out exceptional people. There are many amazing examples of people who you admire and think they are so good at what they do and they make it appear easy to juggle multiple priorities. To have that ability to make it appear effortless, that was one of the things I always aspired to.

 

What do you think makes women excel in banking?

Brumpton: People stand on their own merits. If you are a good banker, you’re a good banker whether you’re a man or a woman. We have a lot of really good women in many parts of our company, including some of the non-traditional markets you would assume not women to excel in, and they’re doing a fantastic job.

Maeter: Part of the JP Morgan model where you put a team together to work with a client, you are not the star, it is not always about you, it is all about the client and you need to be able to work well within the team and not have to be the dominant female. I think women can do that very well- we certainly have brilliant male bankers and investors as well, so it’s not an exclusive female trait but it is a skill set I think is particularly valuable in private banking.

 

Profiles

Citi Private Bank

Dena Brumpton joined Citi 28 years ago, beginning her career in its mutual fund offshore business in the Channel Islands. After gaining valuable experience in this role, Dena was ready for a new challenge, and took an opportunity with Citi’s asset management business in Tokyo aged 24. On moving to Japan, Dena immediately acknowledged there were very few women working in the professional areas of the office. As a ‘western women working in Japan’, Dena was treated as an ‘honorary man’ in the office at the time.

"I was very ambitious when I moved to Japan. I was gaining invaluable experience which really helped me refine my career path. I was keen to work hard, and excel in whatever I was doing."

"It was a privilege to experience a culture that wasn’t really accepting of women in business at the time".

As Dena’s career moved forward she worked in various roles with Citi, in both the Corporate and Investment Bank as well as the Markets organisation, and was in New York during a pivotal time in the company’s evolution when Citibank and US insurance company Travelers merged to form Citigroup. Shortly after in 1998, Dena became CAO of the company’s Global Banking division in New York. Moving back to London in 2009, she has been working as global COO of Citi Private Bank ever since.

"Citi has been exactly what I wanted it to be – a succession of interesting jobs out of which I have formed a great career. Though I haven’t left the company, I haven’t been in a particular role for more than five years, and have worked across regions and businesses during my career. That’s the power of Citi; it’s so vast with tremendous opportunities."

Dena Brumpton COO Citi Group

Dena Brumpton, COO Citi Private Bank

 

JP Morgan Private Bank

Having moved from the US 14 years ago, Tracy Maeter, managing director and head of the UK Investors team at J.P. Morgan Private Bank initially joined the firm in 1992:"I would say I grew up in J.P. Morgan, so I’ve actually come home in some ways," she said.

Tracy began her career working in consulting on the trading floors in New York. She said: "The trading floor was one where you have far fewer women than men. Some environments aren’t as conducive to women or men or people don’t fit into a particular group, but that is something I had never thought about."

Upon moving into private banking Tracy found the ’emotional and interpersonal overlay’ had a higher degree of importance when it came to dealing with clients.

J.P. Morgan has a high number of senior women alongside Tracy, Mary Erdoes is CEO of Asset Management globally and Tracy Reddings is CEO of UK Private Wealth Management.

Tracy

Tracy Maeter, MD JP Morgan Private Bank

 

Victoria Private Investments

Heather Maizels studied law at Cambridge and became a barrister before embarking on a City career, working with UK and US banks setting up the first currency swap transactions and growing swap businesses. In leaving the bar, she was influenced by her family background of academic economists and her late brother Spencer who started his city career at Hambros.

In 1990 Maizels approached Barclays with the vision of creating a private banking business, which she set up and grew from scratch. Her model was to give proper advice to individuals, families and their business and charitable interests with advice given by multi-disciplined professionals who had legal, accounting, tax and specialist banking backgrounds. They were not salespeople but had established careers in giving advice within an overall tax efficient strategy. This business started with 5 private bankers and grew rapidly during the time Maizels was leading it. When the strategy of the wider Barclays changed Maizels became a founder member of the advisory board and grew the business further around client’s interests – including Art, Family Philanthropy, and Wealth for Women issues.

Two years ago Maizels joined her current business and is now managing director of Victoria Private Investment Office, a business which grew out of a family office.

Heather

Heather Maizels, MD Victoria Private Investments