Fintech firms among those pressed on gender equality charter

By Ryan Weeks on Thursday 15 February 2018

Alternative Lending

Nicky Morgan MP has written to firms that are yet sign up to the charter, but she has been accused of political grandstanding by some.

Nicky Morgan MP has written to firms that are yet sign up to the charter, but one fintech founder has accused her of political grandstanding.

Financial services firms that have been slow to sign up to The Women in Finance Charter have gotten a kick up the backside from Nicky Morgan MP, former Secretary of State for Education (2014-2016) and Minister for Women and Equalities (2014).

The charter is a commitment by HM Treasury to build a more gender balanced and fair financial services sector. As of November 2017, it had over 160 signatories, representing over 600,000 employees in the industry, which is roughly 50 per cent.

Morgan has written to over 30 firms to ask whether they will be signing the charter, and, if not, their reasons for not doing so. Among those 30 are a number of alternative finance and fintech firms, including Crowdcube, iwoca, LendInvest, MarketInvoice, Seedrs and Zopa. They sit alongside some of the biggest names in financial services, such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and UBS.

“The progress of the Women in Finance Charter is to be welcomed,” said Morgan (pictured). “The aim, however, must be to see all firms in the financial services sector sign up to the Charter and make a concerted effort to improve their gender diversity, particularly in senior roles.”

But some recipients seem to have been caught off guard by the letter. Christian Faes, who runs property lending platform LendInvest, yesterday posted a series of tweets in which he complained that Morgan’s letter arrived after the distribution of a press release announcing it.

“Worse still, the letter doesn't provide a copy (or even a link) to the Charter, nor any information on how we actually sign up,” Faes told AltFi. “Her press release provides more information on it all, than her letter to us. Having received her letter only yesterday, she wants us to sign up by tomorrow. It’s total nonsense. She is clearly more interested in getting a headline than really trying to help Women in Finance (in my opinion).”

Faes also noted that 40 per cent of LendInvest employees are women – a statistic which applies to the firm’s senior management roles as well as company-wide.

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