The UK’s fintech scene is buzzing, the money is flowing and the topic is often in the headlines.
The stats are also looking good as KPMG noted that in the first half of this year, the UK led the way in the EMEA region with $24.5 billion (£18.4 billion) of fintech investment.
In the dynamic fintech sector there has been a notable rise in the number of women driving positive change within the senior leadership ranks of tech firms and creating a culture of openness, diversity and inclusion at every level within organisations.
In our fourth ‘Inspiring Women in Fintech’ interview, we speak with Roxana Mohammadian-Molina, Chief Strategy Officer at Blend Network.
Blend Network is a digital non-bank lender to SME property developers and small construction companies.
How and where did you start your career in fintech?
Like many good things in life, I started my career in fintech by accident! I worked in investment banking (Morgan Stanley and Barclays) for close to eight years, and towards the end I was thirsty for change and for an environment that was more agile, dynamic and vibrant! Blend Network was actually set up by a colleague I worked with at Morgan Stanley, whom I joined when the business was launched in 2018 to disrupt the real estate development finance debt market. What I love about fintech is how technology pushes the pace of innovation to tackle customers’ pain points at traditional financial institutions.
Are there any women in tech (or fintech) that have particularly inspired you?
There are many women in the sector that have inspired me and that continue to do so every day. Generally, I am a big admirer of strong-willed and determined yet kind and empathetic female leaders who are able to inspire and bring out the best in people around them. One such woman is Maria Harris, seasoned NED and advisor to many fintech companies and banks including United Trust Bank. I am inspired by her support to other fellow female professionals and the way she always creates a rope ladder for those below.
What’s the most pressing issue for women in fintech today?
I think the most pressing issue for women in fintech today is to tackle the lack of strong role models and leaders who are able to create a rope ladder for those below. I strongly believe that more resources need to be put to work towards initiatives that support and inspire the current and next generation of innovators. I always like to refer to Innovate Finance’s FinTech For Schools program as a case in point of powerful initiatives in our sector that aim to promote awareness of fintech, and would like to see more similar initiatives.
What advice would you give to women looking to get into fintech?
My advice to women looking to get into fintech would be to focus and persevere. I have been told numerous times that I am like a dog with a bone when trying to achieve a result, and frankly I would not have it any other way. I strongly believe that focus and perseverance are the single key ‘secrets’ to what I have achieved so far in my career. At a time when we are constantly bombarded with so much information and can get pulled out in different directions, be sure that you focus on the goal ahead and don’t let yourself get distracted.
How do you think fintech solutions can help advance women’s financial health?
I am very vocal about how fintech-enabled solutions are helping advance women’s financial health and allowing us to tackle factors traditionally suggested as reasons holding women back from investing: lack of confidence and expertise, as well as overly technical language that fails to address women’s requirements. According to a survey by YouGov, over half of women have never held an investment product with lack of confidence being the main reason: while 45% of men would feel confident investing some of their money, the figure among women is only 28%. Fintech solutions such as peer-to-peer property lending are allowing women to see where their money is being invested and what it helps create. But there are many other examples of how fintech-powered solutions have the potential to be used as female empowerment tools to help address long-running gender gaps and redress inequalities in the fields of investing, wealth management and financial planning.
Check out the previous interview with Felicia Meyerowitz Singh, Founder and CEO of Akoni Hub, here.