Members Area
E2W Connecting Women in Financial Services Men For Inclusion
Open Menu

Women in Financial Services Blog

Quick fire Q&A with Fiona Sainz, E2W Advisory Board member

Quick fire Q&A with Fiona Sainz, E2W Advisory Board member

Katie.Dix / 21 Aug 2019

Fiona has extensive COO/business management and business development experience in both buy and sell-side blue chip firms, with expertise in Global Markets, Corporate and Investment Banking. Fiona's experience across the financial industry has given her a unique ability to identify correlations and commercial opportunities. Fiona strikes a good balance between her entrepreneurial spirit and commercial outlook with a risk lens developed in her recent endeavours. 

"As a member of the Advisory Board I look forward to working with E2W and its network, to help and support more women to succeed and flourish in their financial services careers."

1. What makes our mission meaningful to you?

I am passionate about diversity and believe in equality in the work place. It is refreshing to see a firm that truly contributes to society by helping to breach the gender and diversity gap in the financial services industry.

2. At a recent E2W, Women in Finance Charter meeting with HM Treasury and senior E2W members, a discussion ensued about the challenge of a lack of senior female roles rather than the often reported lack of qualified women being a barrier. Do you have experience of this?

Should roles be distinguish between senior ‘female’ and senior ‘male’ roles? My view is that roles should not be distinguished as such unless it requires specific physical strength. I don’t think there are lack of senior ‘women’ roles, I think the selection process needs to be transparent and controlled in a way to ensure ‘unconscious biases’ is dealt with upfront and appropriately.

3. Firms are saying they have implemented recruitment strategies that seek to address the imbalance at senior levels. Do you have experience of this?

My experience is that they are just trying to make the old recruitment practices work even harder. If you do things in the same old way, you get the same old results as can be seen from firms gender pay gap statistics.

A solution I have heard about is of a major firm mandating that all senior roles are released to E2W. They have been able to put forward female candidates who are more often than not the best person for the job and the best person for the team.

4. How can we make the role of accountable executives more visible and normal? Is this role still seen as an ‘off the desk’ function?

Yes. This role is still seen as ‘off the desk’ function. Firms should educate their executives and train them to be leaders that lead by example e.g. executives should dedicate time to their team to guide and direct them as required and to show their continuous support.

5. What methods can be used to recognise outstanding performance in D&I verses highlighting poor performers?

I recommend using the strength based approach when discussing performance. I believe firms should harness the strengths of their employees by encouraging and supporting them to do more activities/work that they are good in doing in the workplace. This will increase motivation and productivity in employees and create a better working environment in the firm.

6. What skills, connections, resources, and expertise do you have to offer and are willing to use on the behalf of the organisation?

I'm all about sharing and helping others to be more productive - not just for myself but my entire network. I'm known for the connections I make and the value people get from those. I have a huge network that I have grown by being in the banking industry for over 20 years.

7. Did you have any worries or concerns about joining the board?

Absolutely not. On the contrary, I take pride in being your sounding board, be in a position where I can share my experiences, expertise, knowledge and network with you and be able to help you steer your business in the right direction as you see fit.

8. What motivates you?

Seeing businesses accomplish what they had set out to do and achieve their goals, motivates me.

9. What do we do better than anyone else in our field?

Publicity and the sincere support you provide to your members.

10. If you can change one law to help our cause, what would it be?

Equal pay structure for both men and women for the same grade regardless of role. e.g. All VPs should be paid the same amount when they are brought into a firm.

11. What does "success" mean to you in terms of your work as a board member?

Success means being a value to you in helping you to steer and grow your business in the most efficient and cost effective way. Being able to give constructive challenges whenever necessary.

12. What would you like to accomplish in the next 12 months as a board member/staff members/volunteer of our organisation?

Provide sound advice, give good connections and be a brand ambassador.

13. What rules should we be breaking?

Expose firms that only pay lip service to diversity and inclusion agendas. Be the ‘watch dog’ for the financial services.

14. What are people thinking, but afraid to express?

Being bullied at the workplace because of their gender, race or background etc. People are afraid to express it because it is difficult to evidence if the bully doesn’t out right insult you. However, as we all know, they can belittle you in many different ways.

15. What is your greatest current frustration?

Senior women get hired into senior roles and are treated like an outsider and sometimes bullied because they have literally joined a ‘boys club’. My view on how to change this is, although a passive one, to continue to encourage firms to educate their leaders and middle managers on diversity and inclusion. Many people forget that with diversity comes from different ways of thinking and different ways of doing things. Paying lip service to hire someone that is ‘different’ but expect them to be like you is naïve and frankly uneducated.

16. During your career, has there been a time when you thought “Yes, I’ve made it!”?

I would say that every move I had made in my career, I sincerely thought that. Life is a journey and therefore I would continue to explore what opportunities may come my way until I find my ‘career home’.

17. What has been the biggest challenge during your career and why? It could be one incident in particular or something more common in the industry, or even something to do with you and your development?

My biggest challenge to date was working for someone who once treated me like I was irrelevant. I would say I was definitely bullied.

18. What are your thoughts on the next generation of women in finance?

I think the next generation of women in finance will reap the benefits and rewards of what the current and past generation have been working so hard in pushing the diversity and inclusion agenda. I also think they will be more assertive in pushing this topic forward ‘snowball effect’.

19. When you retire, what would you like to be remembered for?

That I was the connector.

20. And finally...the best gift you’ve received?

My 3 beautiful children!


Back to blog