Progression based on merit, not gender 

October 4, 2017

Lucy Hope, managing director of Bespoq Commercial Solutions, reflects on changing times when it comes to women working in the financial industry

Finance has traditionally been seen as a male-dominated industry. Do you agree? 

When I was appointed to my first commercial bank manager role, I was one of the only female commercial managers in the region – and certainly the youngest. However, in recent years there has been a shift in the industry, and, at one point in our North East team, there were as many female managers as there were men. Our area director was a woman, who had a hugely successful career, having worked up through the grades over a number of years.

Do you feel as though your career in finance has differed from that of your male counterparts? If so, how?

I believe that, regardless of gender, progression within a company should be based on merit. I don’t think that my career prospects were hindered, or advanced, because of being a woman. In general, however, I find that women tend to undersell themselves and focus on things that they aren’t good at, whereas men will do the opposite.

How has a career in finance benefited you? 

I had fantastic training with one of the world’s biggest, most reputable brands, and have had the privilege of working with clients and colleagues from different backgrounds, as well as managing relationships with businesses of varying sizes, across all sectors. It has given me an understanding of both the lender and the client, and given me the required skills to start my own business.

What are the skills you need to have a successful career in finance? 

The most important skills, in my opinion, are being able to manage relationships and having good judgment. Decisions are never right, or wrong, and there will always be a risk in financial transactions. Being able to give a balanced view and weigh up the risks, for both the client and the lender, is vital in being successful.

I believe you recently held a women-focused networking event. Tell me about it? Why did you decide to hold the event? 

I decided to host a Prosecco Networking Event, creatively named Bespoqcco. It focused on bringing professionals together to make new contacts, and help one another in business. Often networking events – particularly in financial services – are typically male-dominated sporting events, or open networking, where women can sometimes feel intimidated. Bepoqcco wasn’t only for women, men were invited too, and there was a good balance. But I wanted to try something a bit different that may appeal more to the female audience. We are hosting a further event on November 3.

Bespoq Commercial Solutions