Catalyst Property Finance

'It's vital to surround yourself with a great team and a supportive culture'

So, what’s it like to be a woman in specialist lending? Having held marketing positions in five specialist lending companies over the past 22 years, I have a good understanding of the benefits and challenges this sector presents to its female cohort.

Specialist lending remains undeniably male dominated; particularly in the more senior roles. Women are simply fewer in number, and that’s a shame. While I’m delighted to see the balance shifting towards an equal footing, more can be done to create an achievable working framework for women in finance. Improvements are needed to attract them to work in specialist lending and, particularly, to support career progression in a female-friendly working environment alongside any family and caring responsibilities, through menopause and beyond.

Have I encountered the ‘old boys’ club’ and ‘locker room banter’ over the years? Yes. But I am quick to speak up and have my voice heard when needed. Being raised alongside two much older brothers was great preparation for sitting in a boardroom debate and knowing my opinions deserve equal attention to my male colleagues. And as long as the intention is good, I love a bit of office banter — it was one of the things I missed most during the pandemic.

If I were to give advice to women starting out in the sector, I would say to go for it. Believe in yourself, speak up, put yourself forward and, if you don’t feel respected, make a move. As in any industry, it’s vital to surround yourself with a great team and a supportive culture. I also suggest finding a mentor; I’ve had a few over the years, female and male, who have increased my specialist lending and marketing knowledge, shaping my ability to do my job better.

Personally, I have felt incredibly supported by the businesses I have worked with. All have treated me equally and, over the past 13 years, all have offered me flexibility as a working parent. I thoroughly enjoy my career in specialist lending; this is a friendly and fun sector. Specifically at Catalyst, where I work now, it’s creative, challenging, ever evolving, and rewarding. This is a fantastic sector for the next generation of women to enter, we just need to make sure the framework is in place for them to fully thrive.

Are you a woman in the financial services industry keen to get your voice heard? Contact [email protected] — we would love to chat!

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