It is an exciting time to be in the fintech space. Some firms have become household names and today over 70% of digitally active adults in the UK use a fintech service – well above the global average.
There has been a rise of women driving positive change within the senior leadership ranks of companies – and creating a culture of openness, diversity and inclusion at every level within organisations.
In our first ‘Inspiring Women in Fintech’ interview, we talk to Karen Rudich, CEO and Co-Founder of ELEMENTARYb.
The London-based company is the “world’s first intelligent ecosystem and marketplace for midsize enterprises operating globally”. Rudich has a background in engineering and data, and a knack for making money (she spent 20 years helping banks increase revenue and improve profitability), her passion is to use the power of data, technology and analytics to help drive economic opportunities for young people – especially women.
How and where did you start your career in fintech?
I became involved with fintech when I worked in banking as the innovative technologies coming out of the fintech sector were like a candy shop for a geek like myself, especially one who worked with greenfield technology to drive change within the banks. It wasn’t until 2013 when I launched my second startup – FireDrake, that I became directly involved in first integrating fintech solutions into legacy monoliths of our customers (the banks), and later developing our own fintech integration platform (BiBox) to increase the speed of integration.
Are there any women in tech (or fintech) that have particularly inspired you?
Absolutely! There are so many amazing women to choose from, but I will focus on two amazing women who opened my eyes early in my career to the power of tech for good: Magalie Coadour, CIO at BNP Paribas and Nathalie Bouez, Head of Risk & Analytics at the same bank. I met both many years apart but their passion for simplifying information, working with (and listening to) people and using tech to drive positive change opened my eyes to the power of positive role women models. Both taught me that I could be my quirky self in banking without apology, through their kind, compassionate and energy-fuelled personalities!
What’s the most pressing issue for women in fintech today?
Opportunities: Opportunities to launch their business ideas because fundraising at early stages is designed for those who wish to follow a standard academic process and is run mostly by men or women following that same ingrained process. Opportunities to be a part of a business because salaries are well below corporate wages and women still make up most of primary carers and need to balance careers with availability at home. Opportunities to meet role models who can show you having your cake and eating it is possible, and finally, opportunities to enter the industry because fintech startups are usually cash strapped and can’t afford to fund apprenticeships or support individuals with the dedication they need.
What advice would you give to women looking to get into fintech?
Close your eyes and jump! Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, mentors, role models and support groups and an ‘all or nothing’ is not the only approach – you can always start something evenings and weekends until it gets going and then move over! Even if you’re only 25% sure you want to do it, that belief mixed with passion is all you need to take a leap of faith: “Fear is the only thing ever holding us up from achieving our utmost potential.” In the end, what’s the worst that can happen? You fail? Then start again! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – I’ve lost count to the number of mistakes I’ve racked up!
How do you think fintech solutions can help advance women’s financial health?
Accessibility, increased awareness and education are key components being delivered by fintech all around the world and through these, more women – particularly in younger and older generations – are realising the importance of financial health and independence. As a society, we need to ensure this torch is carried through and used as a force for good so future generations, both men and women, realise that educated and financially-secure women are a core foundational pillar of economic growth.