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Gender in Financial Supervision: Q&A with Simran Singh (UK Financial Conduct Authority)

For the month of March, in honor of International Women’s Day, the Cambridge SupTech Lab is featuring inspiring leaders of women in finance and financial supervision. We asked them questions about financial inclusion as well as about career advice and finance mentorship. Our next leader is Simran Singh, TechSprint Lead, Innovation Lab, Financial Conduct Authority.

Q: Is there a female leader currently working in financial supervision or central banking to create greater gender equity that you admire?

A: When it comes to female leaders in financial supervision and central banking, Francesca Hopwood Road at BIS is someone I truly admire. Having her as my mentor has been an incredible honour. What truly sets her apart, and resonates with me every time we converse, is her remarkable capacity for empathy and genuineness. In our often fast-paced world, these qualities are sometimes undervalued, yet they are the essential building blocks that lead to true leadership. I’m a passionate advocate for empathy and the power of attentive listening – it’s this very quality that underscores the conventional descriptors of insightful, experienced, and confident leadership. I firmly believe that the best communicators are often the best listeners, capable of identifying and sharing unique insights while seamlessly connecting disparate areas. It goes to show that true leadership is not just about titles and achievements but about understanding, connecting, and fostering a nurturing environment that can empower people to work towards a shared vision.

Q: How can women in finance, central banking, and financial supervision identify opportunities to be mentored, and to mentor someone else?

A: While the quest for a mentor can seem daunting, I’ve noticed that there are quite a few opportunities hidden in plain sight. Interestingly, most people, and many in senior positions, are quite open to direct outreach and engaging conversations about their career journeys. It’s easy to fall into the misconception that seeking finance mentorship might burden the mentor or create an obligation. However, I’ve observed that the right mentors view it as an honour and find fulfilment in supporting others on their professional journey. Networks play a crucial role in this process. I am part of the Women In Regulatory Innovation network, made up of inspiring women from diverse backgrounds and various career levels. Being part of such networks allows for the sharing of experiences and lessons learned, and helps you find the mentor you resonate most with. I’ve learnt that mentorship doesn’t always require explicit labels; someone can become a mentor through the natural course of conversations, and the knowledge gained from them. There’s also no such thing as the ‘perfect’, all-knowing mentor. Having different mentors for different aspects of your professional development is valuable. Some may inspire with their work ethic, others with their personality, and others with their technical expertise.

Q: What inspires you about working towards greater gender equity through your role in financial supervision and central banking?

A: My role leading on the TechSprint Programme at the FCA Innovation Lab allows me the creative freedom to design regulatory hackathons that can address overlooked areas, and gender equity is a prime example. TechSprints, with their human-centred design focus, serve as a platform for turning discussions into tangible solution-driven actions. We’ve deliberately structured our initiatives to champion inclusivity, incorporating diverse personas, mapping end-to-end user journeys, and ensuring a balanced mix of participants across career grades. By integrating user-centred design, we explore innovative ways to contextualise problems, drawing on lived experiences and behavioural insights. This approach contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of gender-related challenges for women in finance. For instance, our upcoming Financial Inclusion TechSprint emphasises keeping individuals at the heart of the solution, encouraging participants to consider case studies and narratives that illuminate different life circumstances consumers face. TechSprints have consistently demonstrated that the most sophisticated solutions arise when we consider intersectionality and factor in diverse perspectives. In fostering a gender-balanced, inclusive space for participation, mentorship, and speeches, we not only enhance the quality of our initiatives but also contribute essential pieces to solving industry challenges. Increasing representation, and particularly empowering female representation in the TechSprint programme, brings about the well-rounded interdisciplinary insights necessary for meaningful progress in our pursuit of gender equity.

Q: What is the role of financial authorities, and in particular financial supervisors, to further advance financial inclusion, non-discrimination and equal opportunities of women in global economies?

A: Beyond policy measures and implementation of a range of regulatory reforms to enable women’s financial and economic empowerment, financial regulators must leverage their positioning in the financial services ecosystem to promote changes that drive gender-inclusive finance mentorship by: 

  1. Aligning and coordinating a gender inclusive financial system that addresses the specific demand and supply side barriers on the national level within the country’s regulatory entities as well as through regular coordination with key market players, both private and public sector; 
  2. Collaboration to implement regulations, practices and programs to boost women’s financial inclusion and literacy is as important as the design of the measures; 
  3. Mandating collection and reporting of sex-disaggregated data from financial institutions to track and monitor the progress; 
  4. Incentivising financial institutions to implement women-centric solutions; and 
  5. Encouraging fintech and digital innovation.

Read more about women in finance mentorship, females in financial supervision, and national-international women’s day.

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Authors
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Cambridge SupTech Lab

Cambridge SupTech Lab

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Jose Miguel Mestanza Hirakata

Cambridge SupTech Lab

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Juliet Ongwae

Cambridge SupTech Lab

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Kalliopi Letsiou

Cambridge SupTech Lab

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Matt Grasser

Cambridge SupTech Lab

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Matt Grasser and Kalliopi Letsiou

Cambridge SupTech Lab

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Simone di Castri

Cambridge SupTech Lab

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