When it comes to finance, women are still underrepresented – both in the role of the investor and in the management of financial institutions. Why is that?
Simona: I think it has historical background. In our society, the topic of finance generally carries male connotations. And, unfortunately, antiquated female roles still dominate in Germany. It’s interesting when you look at the situation of the home office at the moment. It is mainly the mothers who have to struggle with this double burden of taking care of the children and doing their job. On the positive side, so to speak, digitalization offers us many exciting possibilities and opportunities to create new structures that enable women in particular to become more visible and to position themselves more broadly.
Nazli: The problem is even more fundamental and starts with the fact, that women do not study in this direction. Even if they choose business courses, they usually go for marketing or human resources. And then they don’t necessarily end up in relevant departments, from which the top management is often recruited.
And it goes back further, starting with children’s books and the role stereotypes they convey.
Simona: That’s right. Even with the colours of the toys, you have to start with the choice between either pink or blue…
Women are very successful when they invest money and make investments. There are many studies that prove this. What is your experience?
Nazli: I believe that women are not so emotionally controlled when it comes to trade – although we are always told that in other areas of life. But when it comes to investing, they are more pragmatic and, this is a decisive advantage, they are risk-averse.
Simona: I would add that women generally are more reflective. And this is, of course, a great advantage, especially when it comes to more complex issues, such as investment.
How can you motivate women to deal with this topic? What is the right approach?
Simona: The most important tool is education. We, at IG, will also promote and invest very strongly in this, strategically. We want to introduce women step by step to the topic of investment and securities. There is still a way to go, because the existing education concepts or formats are not as appealing as they could be. And that is why our aim is to take a completely new approach: more visual, more interactive, more up-to-date and more relevant.
Nazli: What also helps are networks, that bring women together and also create role models. Their positive influence cannot be overestimated.
While we are on the subject: Who are good role models for you and why?
Nazli: I was particularly encouraged by women, whose career path started at the bottom and who have worked their way up. I was best able to observe this in internal IG examples, such as our Chief Commercial Officer, Bridget Messer. I also attribute much courage to women, who enter a management position outside the industry and prove themselves at the top.
Simona: My very first role model in life was my mother. She studied, made a career and raised children alongside her job. She taught me how important a good education and economic independence are. In terms of the economy in general, there are two women in particular that stand out for me: Janina Kugel, the former Board Member of Siemens, and Jennifer Morgan, the Co-CEO of SAP. In the case of Janina, I was always very impressed by her personality, how confidently she dealt with resistance and also by the openness with which she addressed issues, such as racism. That’s really inspiring. And speaking of Jennifer Morgan – I like her leadership style: extremely open, communicative, and appreciative. That inspires me.
You both have very different job biographies. What motivated you, personally, to go into the financial industry?
Simona: I come from East Berlin, where there was no financial sector in that sense. When the Wall came down, I was a teenager. And that’s when I discovered this whole new world. I was magically drawn to this subject, I saw movies, read books about it. I was fascinated by the speed of this industry. I found it exciting to learn how to make money, what mechanisms are behind it and how to react to volatile market situations. I really wanted to be a part of that. After graduating from high school, I moved to London and studied economics.
Nazli: I came into the financial industry via detours. I studied marketing and did internships in journalism and politics. During this time, I had my first contact with business editorial offices and newspapers like the Handelsblatt. What fascinates me about this topic is the macro perspective, the national economic aspect. Or: the bigger picture. What an enormous influence the economy has on each individual, on everyday life, on everything we do.
Simona: And now, with digitalization, what opportunities it offers us to connect, to exchange, to communicate with each other!
Nazli: In trading as well. Digitalization has democratised the securities business – nowadays, it is accessible to everyone.
We have talked about your different professional backgrounds. But you also have an exciting socio-cultural experience. To what extent does that shape you – and even is an advantage, in terms of diversity.
Simona: I already mentioned that I grew up in East Berlin, under communism in the Eastern Bloc, with all the obstacles that came with it. When I was 13, the turning point came. It opened up completely new possibilities for me. When I was 16, I went to the USA for a year on a student exchange and lived with a Mormon family. You can’t get more contrast to East Berlin than that. After the High School graduation, I went to London to study and I stayed there for 16 years. Later on, I worked in Paris and Munich before eventually moving to Frankfurt. This internationality has always inspired and attracted me. Getting to know other cultures, working in different surroundings, learning new languages. This helps you to have various perspectives on topics and dealing with them.
Nazli: I have Turkish roots and Turkish was the first language I learned. My parents are teachers, they raised me to be responsible. I was independent at a very early age and left home at 17, in order to study and earn my own money at the same time. This may not be unusual for many people, but by Turkish standards it was extremely early. Languages have always played an important role in my life. I moved around a lot, studied in Istanbul, among other places and these intercultural experiences have had a great impact on me.
What is it actually like to work as a double leader? To what extent is it an advantage and what are the disadvantages?
Simona: To be honest, I only see advantages. We make more balanced decisions. When the dual leadership is complementary, as it is in our case, topics are analysed much more closely. You simply get better results in the end.
Nazli: The advantage is definitely that it brings completely new perspectives and aspects, you would never have thought of yourself otherwise. I’ve been with IG for ten years, so I’m sure you develop a certain blindness to your work, so it’s good that Simona has a fresh view. Disadvantages? I would say that we do not always agree, but that actually can be seen as an advantage.
Simona: Exactly, friction can be quite productive.
What do you each appreciate about the other?
Nazli: I mostly appreciate Simona’s courage. No doubt about that.
Simona: I appreciate Nazli’s way of reflecting and how she gets to the bottom of things.
Let’s talk about your goals and visions. Where do you want to be in five or ten years?
Simona: Our vision of the future is to be the broker of choice for women. But we would rather achieve that in three years than in five or ten. We want to take away women’s fear of derivatives. We want to achieve that with education formats, through networks and with partnerships, for example with publishing houses.
Nazli: When I now think beyond just the company, on a social level, equality is finally becoming ordinary. So that we can finally deal with other things.
Simona: Equality is a good keyword. It is important for us, as a company, to have a balanced workforce in Germany on all levels. At our headquarters in London, we have already made considerable progress in this respect.
Nazli: This has to do with the fact, that in some countries you have to submit gender gap reports. And of course, every company has its own way of dealing with things. I would also like to see binding quota requirements for Germany, especially in industries where women are underrepresented on management level.
One of the typical pseudo-arguments against quotas is that there are not enough qualified women. What is it that you can no longer bear to hear?
Nazli: For me it’s all attributions, these common stereotypes. For example, the term ‘marketing lady’.
Simona: What I can’t hear anymore, is the prejudice that women can’t handle numbers or this generalisation, that women aren’t interested in finance anyway.
Finally: How are you currently doing with the home office situation? What insights have you gained from it?
Nazli: Personally, I used to work from home very rarely. I actually prefer to be with the team. Social contact is very important to me. So I’m all the more surprised how smoothly everything runs. Just as if we had always worked like this. It’s important to do other activities in between work, such as puzzles or sports, and to take breaks.
Simona: My attitude towards home office has also changed completely. I feel similarly to Nazli – I also need the exchange with my colleagues. I am convinced, that the best ideas and strategies can only be developed in an interaction with the team. I wouldn’t have believed that something like this is possible remotely. However, I have completely revised my opinion. It’s amazing how well it works to exchange detailed digital information. And I must say, that it has brought us closer together as a team.
So, let’s see how you harmonize as a double-header – or in other words, how diverse you really are. Time for a quick question and answer session:
Tea or coffee?
Simona: Coffee. Nazli: Tea.
Elevator or stairs?
Simona: Elevator. Nazli: Elevator.
Bicycle or car?
Simona: Car. Nazli: Bike.
Clean or cluttered desk?
Simona: Cluttered. Nazli: Clean desk.
Gossips or radio silence?
Simona: Radio silence. Nazli: Gossips.
Morning or evening person?
Simona: Evening person. Nazli: Morning person.
Always on or digital breaks?
Simona: Breaks. Nazli: Always on.
Voice message or text message?
Simona: Text. Nazli: Text.
Manager Magazin or Wirtschaftswoche?
Simona: Handelsblatt. Nazli: Wirtschaftswoche.
Stocks or Funds?
Simona: Stocks. Nazli: Stocks.
Book or e-book?
Simona: E-book. Nazli: Book.
Zoom or teams?
Simona: Teams. Nazli: Zoom.
Berlin or Munich?
Simona: Berlin. Nazli: Munich.
This article is part of a content cooperation between FemaleOneZero (F10) and IG Germany. IG is an online broker specialized on leveraged trading. For more than 45 years, IG makes financial markets accessible for retail investors all around the globe through their intuitive trading platforms and apps. IG provides enhanced education tools to its clients for free to assure investors can make informed and self-directive trading decisions and have all the knowledge they need to do so.