Press release

6 Jun 2022 London, GB

Positive signs of progress for women in FinTech but fundamental barriers still exist

New survey reveals that over three-quarters of women (76%) in FinTech believe their firm is inclusive and 56% feel it is diverse

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Victoria Luttig

Manager, Media Relations, Ernst & Young LLP

Part of the UK PR team, focused on financial services. Covers all things to do with banking, insurance and wealth and asset management. Love sports and travelling. Married and mum of two boys.

Related topics Financial Services
  • New survey reveals that over three-quarters of women (76%) in FinTech believe their firm is inclusive and 56% feel it is diverse
    • This is more pronounced from the male perspective, with 95% of men believing their firm is inclusive and 77% claiming it is diverse
  • But many female-led FinTechs claim they face gender-related obstacles to success, particularly to scale-up
  • Fewer than half (45%) of women founders surveyed feel able to raise equity capital, compared to 62% of men, and less than a third (31%) of women feel able to access debt funding, compared to 44% of men

There are signs of positive change for women in UK FinTech, according to a new report by EY and Innovate Finance ‘Changing the face of UK FinTech: focusing on gender diversity and equality’, which reveals that over three-quarters of women (76%) believe their FinTech organisation is inclusive and over half (56) feel it is diverse. However, significant barriers still exist which need to be urgently addressed to bring about equality – at all levels.

Fewer than half (45%) of women FinTech founders surveyed feel able to raise equity capital, compared to 62% of men, and less than a third (31%) of women feel able to access debt funding, compared to 44% of men. Going forward, it is vital that female founders are empowered and better supported if the industry is to ensure access to the same opportunities across the genders, especially when it comes to scaling up.

D,E&I progress within UK FinTech, but key gender issues still need to be addressed

The report, based on online interviews and focus groups with female and male respondents from across the UK FinTech industry, found that there is progress being made in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I).The survey also showed positive sentiment among junior to mid-level female FinTech employees, with 94% saying they are able to express their views and suggestions at work; 89% claiming they are motivated to do their job and 78% claiming they feel able to be authentic at work. The vast majority also feel they are treated with dignity and respect by their team, regardless whether are in a start-up (86%) or a scale-up (97%), and eight in ten women (78%) expressed they feel valued for their work.

Notwithstanding positive progress on some fronts, however, the survey revealed that there are a number of existing issues which need to be resolved in order for women in the industry to feel a greater sense of parity.

Among junior to mid-level employees, 63% of female respondents believe their gender impacted how they are perceived professionally, compared to just 27% of men. And 80% of women feel their ideas are acted upon, compared to 94% of men. 

Looking at remuneration, 42% of men claimed to have negotiated on compensation, compared to 32% of women, and 69% of men received all or nearly all of what they asked for, compared to 51% of women.

Anita Kimber, EMEIA Business Transformation Leader at EY, comments: “Gender imbalances are not new issues within business, but as a relatively young industry that boasts a heavily millennial workforce, the FinTech sector sits in an interesting space on this topic. There are some good foundations in place, and it is encouraging that progress is being made and that many women are being supported to achieve incredible things. But we are at a pivotal point in time where the industry now needs to accelerate progress and further support women – at every level – so they feel able to make that next step; whether it be negotiating around salary or accessing the funding they need in order to grow their business. There is a real opportunity for the FinTech sector to lead the way in driving greater gender equality and we hope the recommendations outlined in this report will help power material change.”

Recommendations to drive greater equality

EY and Innovate Finance have outlined the following recommendations to improve gender equality in the UK FinTech sector, based on findings from the research and views from the focus groups:

  1. Better support needed for female founders as they grow their business: requiring co-ordination with the investment industry to help remove gender barriers around critical funding.

  2. The creation of more inclusive working environments: achieved through further improved flexible working policies (which have been enhanced following the pandemic and the move to more remote and hybrid working), a review of appraisal and salary processes, a reassessment of how talent and recruitment is managed, and the implementation of strong measurement and reporting processes.

  3. Focus on reducing gender disparity: attained through targeted recruitment, including engaging with school age children to boost the female talent pipeline and dedicated mentoring to help with career challenges for women already in the industry.

Chris Woolard, Head of UK Fintech at EY and also Chair of EY’s Global Regulatory Network, comments: “FinTech is one of the great global financial disruptors of our time and the UK is at the forefront, leading many of the of innovations and developments that are changing the face of the financial services industry. The sector’s future hinges on building an environment where talent is able to flourish. Getting diversity right is a key element to the sustainability of the sector’s growth. But is it not only about competitive advantage; it is also the right thing to do and will secure access to the best possible leaders and innovators.” 

Janine Hirt, CEO at Innovate Finance, adds: “The UK boasts a world-leading FinTech sector that is seen by peers as the global benchmark for innovation and transformation in financial services. It is therefore vital to ensure that we are also setting the global standards when it comes to diversity and inclusion. It’s clear there is still a long way to go in ensuring everyone can succeed within the sector, including supporting underrepresented founders in accessing increased capital and investment. We - industry, government and regulators - must all work together to make the industry more inclusive. FinTechs in particular have the opportunity to shift the demographic of talent within financial services.” 

Notes to editors:

The survey was based on online interviews between July and September 2021 with 237 respondents who worked in the FinTech industry. Respondents ranged from across the FinTech spectrum, from founders and senior leaders to junior staff. 62% were women, 37% men, with 1% non-binary. 

In addition, EY ran six virtual focus groups with people (80% women and 20% men, with 25% of participants from underrepresented ethic groups) from across the financial services and FinTech industry to explore qualitative themes and lived experiences. EY also organised a roundtable with fifteen senior executives from across the FinTech industry to comment on our findings and explore potential solutions to the identified challenges.

FinTech is an integral part of the UK economy and also a key driver of economic growth. EY’s latest estimate is that the UK FinTech industry generated c£11.0bn in revenue in 2019 – up from c£6.6bn in 2015 - and accounts for c8% of total financial services output. The industry also continues to draw high levels of investment, attracting £8.56 billion in capital in 2021 – second only to the US globally.