Glass ceilings

What glass ceiling?

Women bankers explain the barriers they face in the industry and how they are working to increase the number of female managing directors.

Dianne Challenor, chief operating officer for Citi’s transaction services, was among a group of women at Citi who, about three years ago, turned to upper management and said, in short: “You may not have the pipeline right now for 50% of upper management to be made up of women... but we can build that pipeline for you.”

It was a proactive step. No throwing the toys out of the pram and screaming, “Where are the women at the top?” But rather: We’ll build the talent pool; you just have to choose from them.

And that is exactly what Challenor and her female colleagues have done — working together to mentor women and support one another. Some of it is informal. For example, when a position opens up they may quietly propose a fellow woman for the job, as men have been doing for years on golf courses, in pubs and during poker games. There are also more formal efforts. In 2009, Citi launched Women Leading Citi, a programme designed to foster advancement of Citi’s best-performing senior women executives. There are now more than 110 Citi women managing directors or directors who have participated in the programme.

“Since the launch, about 70% of the participants have taken on a new role, expanded responsibilities or received title/level advancement,” said Sara Roberts, head of recruiting and talent at Citi.

To some, the official programmes sound unfair. It’s a form of affirmative action, which doesn’t sit well with those who say it should only come down to talent. Quotas, which have led to increased board membership by women in Europe, tend to rile more people, more profoundly. Some oppose the confinement of having to select a woman. Others say that quotas demean the achievement — if a woman makes it to the top, she then either questions herself or feels others question if she truly is qualified.

 Most banks have introduced mentorship programmes. Many women are now also informally gathering and sharing their problems, which tend to be the same across banks. A major problem is that talented and experienced women often quit the industry earlier than men.

“We lose women at the MD level,” said a prominent banker at a Financial Women’s Association of Singapore meeting late last year. “Oftentimes, you get a woman who has done all the hard work and is up for the MD promotion and that’s when she says, ‘You know what? This isn’t worth it.’”

“The biggest stumbling block is making women want to stay,” agreed Karen Fawcett, group head of transaction banking at Standard Chartered.

“While the overall picture is improving, retention is key, especially at the mid-career stage, and more so than ever given the environment,” added Kate Richdale, head of investment banking in Asia-Pacific for Morgan Stanley.

There’s even a term for it — the leaky pipeline. Women apparently are drained away from the system.

Our research of the top women in Asia’s banks (see Women to Watch) shows that more than 10% have chosen career paths in private banking; other areas where women tend to have succeeded are transaction banking, human resources, communications
and marketing, as well as tech-related jobs. Where you don’t see as many women at the top is on the trading side of the business.

It is hardly surprising that women leave the industry. Even men complain of the toxic environment, so it is perhaps more surprising that women stay at all. Feelings of isolation in the workplace are common and, though attitudes have certainly improved, becoming a mother can put a brake on career progression in a way that does not seem to affect fathers.

 Some of it is socio-economic as well. Women in the financial industry often marry men who are also highly paid professionals, and some couples understandably decide that one income and one stay-at-home parent is the best option. Often, though not always, it’s the woman who quits.

These are sweeping generalisations, of course, but they are consistently heard across corporations.

Just cut the women
While no bank would admit this on record, one senior executive said women are also systematically swept out during downturns. If a bank with, say, 30,000 employees decides it needs to cut 10%, that’s 3,000 people to take off your books. It becomes a depersonalised exercise where you look for the easy cuts: either shut down whole departments (in the past, it was close your Asia office) or eliminate those who are viewed as “not as committed”. Part-time staff, pregnant women and mothers are often the low-hanging fruit. They aren’t fired. They are offered enticing packages and when they consider the work-life balance situation in a cut-throat environment, the choice is often life.

To complicate matters, such clear-outs are sometimes led by senior women bankers. “No one talks about it,” said the source. “But it’s real. The irony is that these are the very same women who are trotted out and presented as our success cases when diversity is brought up.”

 And while banks all talk about trying to be more flexible, the truth is, in some jobs, that isn’t an option. If you’re selling an equity deal, for example, you’re going to, for compliance reasons, have to work from the office during specific and extended hours. Not surprisingly, within the sales and trading divisions of the major banks in Asia, women hold, on average, only 11% of the managing director positions and 18% of director level positions, according to Heidrick & Struggles research conducted in 2010.

That survey concluded, after interviewing women who had climbed the ranks in sales and trading, that: “Yes, they want to see more women in senior roles but they don’t want to change the culture of competition to achieve this. The key to success is attracting more women who fit in rather than changing the culture to attract more women. All across Asia, from Hong Kong and India to Singapore and Indonesia, women leaders told us that they have been successful in their careers despite the fact that sales and trading can be a boys’ club.”

Sarah Wang, head of emerging markets structuring Asia at Barclays, acknowledged that women traders aren’t as likely to go out socialising after work as the men, and a trading job has less flexibility in work hours, but she doesn’t think that’s the only reason women opt out. “I think it’s perhaps because there are fewer women role models,” she said.

Wang said that the common feedback she has heard from women, and about women, is that there wasn’t enough exposure to senior management. “Women are less likely to put themselves forward. They are less likely to be vocal about what they’re doing, and to ask for bigger roles.”

So what to do?
“Male managers need to recognise that women present themselves differently,” said Wang. In other words, management needs to look for talent.

Nearly everyone says you need a strong CEO, one who supports the effort to increase the number of women in upper management, not because statistically it’s a good idea, but because the CEO believes that women genuinely do add a different, useful perspective.

Typically, the CEO with this viewpoint also brings to bear a strong sense of family values. “If your CEO thinks it’s important to go see his son or daughter in the school play at 6pm on a Friday and that they can still get the job done, then that sentiment trickles down,” said Fawcett.

And, as Wang pointed out, nearly everyone says you need mentoring. Fawcett suggests it is not a bad idea to look at what types of jobs women have excelled in — and to pursue those careers, where paths have been cleared and guidance is at hand. A look at the list of types of roles that women in Asia have excelled at demonstrates that nearly every banking title is possible. There are top women investment bankers handling M&A and equity capital market deals. There are women leading country teams. And, as mentioned, there are a handful of top traders. But there are many more women in private banking, research, transactional banking, corporate communications and human resources. Why?

“I think it’s because there were more role models from a very early stage when we started out our careers and along the way, which explains why you see more women in senior positions in 2012,” said Clare Williams, who is head of corporate communications Asia-Pacific at Barclays. “Even in the 80s and 90s there were already a number of women in senior positions, and that has continued into this century, with some (but still not enough) making main board positions, such as Barclays’ Sally Bott.”

Many of these jobs also play to women’s strengths — they are less linear and require creative thinking, clear communication skills and multi-tasking. These traits, once bemoaned by feminists as soft, are increasingly viewed as strengths. It’s not to say that women can’t think in a linear fashion, but rather that they shouldn’t downplay other strengths. Many of these jobs — HR, comms and IT most notably — offer career opportunities across different sectors, which of course makes them more appealing.

But it’s also important to keep things in perspective. Women in upper management may still be a rounding error at many places, but there are more than there used to be. Deutsche Bank, for example, has 56 female managing directors in Asia up from 34 in 2008.

And these women are role models for future generations. As Wei Sun Christianson, co-CEO of Asia-Pacific and CEO of China at Morgan Stanley said: “Having worked in the industry in Asia for almost two decades, what’s so pleasing is that we’ve now reached critical mass in terms of the number of women in senior positions, across all functions, back and front office. It’s more sustainable and no longer just a few high-profile outliers. This has been an important and healthy evolution and, of course, one we must continue to support and nurture.”

Women to watch
We asked banks to list their senior women in Asia: most head departments, some bring in the money, others keep the organisation ticking; most are managing directors, some have not earned that stripe yet; a handful are global executive committee members. These aren’t exhaustive lists; some firms boast many more upper management females than others. But the aim was not to see which bank employed the most women, rather it was to look at what types of roles are held by women in Asia.


Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Mira Arifin, Indonesia investment banking
Catherine Cai, co-head of China investment banking
Alison Chan, Asia-Pacific wealth management client solutions executive
Min Chen, head of Asia corporate finance, real estate, gaming and lodging
Ruth Ferguson, head of human resources Asia-Pacific
Claire Huang, global head of marketing and corporate affairs and global head of market for CIIB, markets and commercial banking
Victoria Ip, CIO Asia-Pacific global wealth management
Grace Kataoka, head of Asia-Pacific corporate social responsibility
Anne Llewelyn, head of Asia-Pacific marketing
Kaku Nakhate, India country head
Miwa Ohmori, chief executive officer of Mitsubishi UFJ Merrill Lynch PB Securities
Traci Ong, head of Malaysia corporate banking and markets Malaysia
Yeng Fang Ong, head of Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines wealth management
Julie Paas, COO of Asia-Pacific corporate and investment banking
Jennifer Taylor, COO, Asia-Pacific
Janie Wanless, head of Australia corporate banking
Wang Wei, head of Greater China FICC sales
Janet Young, head of Asia-Pacific international subsidiary business, corporate banking


Carol Chen, market head, Greater China, wealth and investment management
Mille Chen, head of equity capital markets, China
Carole Cheung, senior client partner, wealth and investment management
Doreen Chiang, foreign exchange distribution
Jiyoung Chung, head of equity distribution, Korea
Windmill Chu Kong, senior banker, wealth and investment management
Jasmine Er, senior banker, wealth and investment management
Julie Evans, head of IT, Singapore
Jenny Finney, COO equities Asia-Pacific
Deborah Ho, senior relationship management, Southeast Asia
Rachel Huf, head of North Asia, legal
Vanessa Koo,  head of consumer and retail coverage, investment banking
Thelma Kwan, head of wealth advisory
Pay Ling Lee, risk solutions
Gwynne Master, head of banks Asia, global transaction sales
Gyan Newman, head of eDistribution
Sarah Wang, head of emerging markets structuring
Nina Zhou, financial institutions coverage


Kristine Braden, head of global banking, Citi Philippines
Mylene Caparas, head of global transaction services, Citi Philippines
Dianne Challenor, COO transaction services
Christie Chang, global banking head, Taiwan
Andrea Fletcher, global head of client management, Citi global markets
Hannah Goodwin, head of prime brokerage, Asia-Pacific
Shally Koh, head of Citi Singapore’s commercial bank
Christine Lam, deputy country business manager and head of retail banking, Citibank Hong Kong
Stacey Lacy, head of operations and technology, Citi China
Donna Leong, Asia-Pacific head of sales and marketing, Citi private bank
Agnes Liew, head of corporate banking, Asia-Pacific
Carmen Ling, head of global transaction services, Citi Hong Kong
Jessica Poh, global market manager, Indonesia, Citi private bank
Amy Reich, general counsel, Asia-Pacific
Tracey Woon, head of investment banking, Asean and head of global banking for Singapore
Myung-Soon Yoo, head of global transaction services, Citi Korea
Muge Yuzuak, head of cards, Citi India
Jing Zhao, co-head of Asia-Pacific financial institutions group


Credit Suisse
Vedika Bhandarkar, vice chairperson and head of investment banking department, India
Angela Bow, market leader for the Philippines, private banking
Catherine Bradley, head of equity-linked solutions group, Asia-Pacific
Vivian Chan, market leader, Greater China, private banking
Fan Cheukwan, head of research for Asia-Pacific, private banking
Trina Chen, head of non-Japan Asia metals and mining research
Kum Soek Ching, head of Southeast Asia equity research, private banking
Elsa Chiu, head of investment banking department, Taiwan
Irene Chow, Greater China equity strategist, private banking
Chew Soon Gek, head of strategy and economic research, private banking
Janice Hu, head of investment banking department, China
Joy Hu, equity derivatives sales
Jullie Kan, market leader, Malaysia, private banking
Song Kun, senior client partner Greater China, private banking
Patricia Lau, head of Hong Kong and Singapore equity derivatives sales
Sue Lee, global markets solutions group
Sandra McCullagh, head of utilities research and environment, social and governance research, Australia
Vasundhara Pradeep, head of prime consulting, Asia-Pacific
Sakthi Siva, head of Asia-Pacific and global emerging markets equity strategy
Lena Teoh, Asia-Pacific chief investment officer, global multi-asset class solutions, Credit Suisse Asset Management
Anna Wong, market area head, Greater China, private banking Asia-Pacific
Orchid Yuan, market leader, Greater China, private banking Asia-Pacific


Ginger Cheng, institutional banking group, Hong Kong
Lum Yin Fong, global transaction services, cash and trade
Soh Ee Fong, global transaction services, securities and fiduciary services
Joyce Foo, capital markets asset-backed structured products
Sasha Foo, technology and operations
Lee Yan Hong, head of group human resources
Yvonne Hsin, North-Asia head of private banking
Chng Sok Hui, chief financial officer
Nancy Kan, risk management
Zhu Ya Min, head of consumer banking, DBS China
Eng Seat Moey, capital markets, asset-backed structured products
Judy Ng, business planning and analytics
Karen Ngui, head of group strategic marketing communications
Pearlyn Phua, wealth management
Cheah Le Sa, equity capital markets
Tan Su Shan, head of wealth management
Sandra Stonham, technology and operations
Lirranana Sun, enterprise banking, DBS Hong Kong
Joyce Tee, institutional banking group, shipping and aviation
Jeannette Wong, head of institutional banking group


Deutsche Bank
Karen Bell, global head of global technology and operations regional management
Cynthia Chan, head of global markets, Taiwan
Rowena Chu, managing director, corporate finance
Bonita Chuang, Hong Kong and Philippines private wealth management country head
Sian Dalrymple, head of compliance, Asia-Pacific
Chandra Mallika, chief operating officer, corporate investment bank, Asia-Pacific
Anjali Mohanty, head of global transaction banking, India
Ornkanya Pibuldham, head of global markets, Thailand
Lisa Robins, head of global transaction banking, Asia-Pacific
Rose Zhu, chief country officer, China


Goldman Sachs
Alison Bott, head of Asia-Pacific human capital management
Stephanie Hui, responsible for the principal investment area (private equity) in China
Helena Koo, vice chairman of private wealth management for Asia-Pacific
Christina Ma, head of Asia-Pacific ex-Japan one delta trading and co-head of Asia-Pacific ex-Japan shares execution
Kathy Matsui, co-head of Asia economics, commodities and strategy research, co-head of Asia investment research
Lisa Opoku, chief operating officer of the Asia-Pacific securities division
Hsin Yue Yong, co-head of Southeast Asia investment banking
Vivien Webb, head of private wealth management for Hong Kong
Xiaoyin Zhang, head of China telecom, media and technology investment banking
Helen Zhu, chief China equity strategist


J.P. Morgan
Thérèse Esperdy, co-head of investment banking, Asia-Pacific
Shumin Huang, investment manager and a specialist with the Greater China
Kam Shing Kwang, market manager for Hong Kong
Catherine Leung, vice chairman, Asia and head of Hong Kong investment banking
Katharine Mak, head of global investment opportunities
Michelle Martin, head of diversity, Asia-Pacific
Kalpana Morparia, chief executive officer, India
Pauline Ng, investment manager and Asean country specialist with the Pacific regional group
Jing Ulrich, chairman of global markets, China
Margaret Yao, regional sales executive, Asia-Pacific


Diana Cesar, head of retail banking and wealth management, Hong Kong
Pui Mun Chan, chief compliance officer, Asia-Pacific
Louisa Cheang, regional head of retail banking and wealth management,
Margaret Wai Ching Cheng, head of human resources, Hong Kong and global businesses Asia-Pacific
Anita Fung, chief executive officer, Hong Kong
Naina Lai Kidwai, group general manager, India
Sarah Legg, chief financial officer, Asia-Pacific
Ronie Yee Man Mak, senior vice president, business planning and strategy
Siew Meng Tan, CEO Mauritius
Cindy Tang, head of group communications, Asia-Pacific
Malini Thadani, head of corporate sustainability, Asia-Pacific
Donna Wong, head of human resources, Asia-Pacific
Helen Wong, president and chief executive officer, HSBC Bank (China)


Morgan Stanley
Eva Chan, deputy sales manager for China and Hong Kong, private wealth management
Amanda Chen, head of Singapore, private wealth management
Wei Sun Christianson, co-CEO of Asia-Pacific and China CEO
Marie-Soazic Geffroy Dernoncourt, deputy head of financial institutions group Asia-Pacific, investment banking
Aisha De Sequeira, head of investment banking, India
Inma Diaz, head of North Asia distribution, investment management
Yuki Hashimoto, head of Asia foreign exchange and emerging markets sales, fixed income
Hwee Hoon Sim, chief operating officer, private wealth management, Asia
Julia Huang, chief representative officer, Morgan Stanley Shanghai representative office
Jasmine Lu, head of Taiwan research and head of tech hardware research
Angela Moh, associate director of research for Hong Kong and head of consumer research
Nina Nagpal, chief operating officer, India
Wendy Ng, Asia-Pacific head of tax
Helen Qiao, chief economist, Greater China, equity research
Kate Richdale, head of investment banking, Asia-Pacific
Judy Tom, head of Asia-Pacific corporate access
Candy Wong, head of Hong Kong and China equity sales
Lorraine Wong, head of Asia prime brokerage sales and business consulting
Joyce Yim, Hong Kong generalist sales, equities
Cathy Zeng, general manager of Morgan Stanley Bank International China


Heidi Chan, consumer/retail team
Mia Bourgeois, head of origination, Asia-Pacific Prime Services 
Olivia Chen, head of structured equity derivatives, China
Rosalind Coffey, head of leadership and development and diversity and inclusion 
Cara Eio, head of equities client strategy and corporate access 
Sandra Kwee, wealth management Asia ex-Japan 
Xin Lin, head of global finance and COO of China 
Jennifer  Sim, chief administrative officer, wealth management Asia ex-Japan 
Amy Tsao, head of Taiwan investment banking division and country head Taiwan 
Wanda Tung, Hong Kong managing director general counsel, Asia ex-Japan
Carman Wong, chief operating officer, investment banking Asia ex-Japan 
Fiona Wong, head of Hong Kong/China equity research sales 
Karen Yao, regional head of human resources, Asia ex-Japan 


Standard Chartered
Kath Cates, chief operating officer, wholesale banking management group
Tiew Siew Chuen, country head, consumer banking, Malaysia
Maureen DeRooij, regional head of SME banking, Singapore and Southeast Asia
Karen Fawcett, group head of transaction banking, wholesale banking management group 
Foo Mee Har, global head, priority and international banking
Judy Hsu, global head, wealth management
Mary Huen, head of consumer banking, Hong Kong
Lyn Kok, CEO of Thailand
Vicky Kong, regional head, wealth management, Northeast Asia
Betty Ku, regional head, SME, Northeast Asia
Nell Cady-Kruse, chief risk officer, wholesale banking
Namita Lal, group head, international banking
Bonnie Lam, head of priority and international banking, Northeast Asia
Anju Patwardhan, chief risk officer for Singapore
May Tan, global head, equity corporate finance
Katherine Tsang, chairperson, Greater China
Ngo Min Ying, group head, client solutions and sales performance


Caroline Darcy, head of sponsorship, Asia-Pacific
Tamera Hodges, head of prime broking sales, Asia-Pacific
Jing Li, general counsel, global asset management, Asia-Pacific
Amy Lo, head of ultra-high-net-worth, wealth management, Asia-Pacific
Kathryn Shih, head of UBS wealth management, Asia-Pacific
Min Lan Tan, head of equity research, Singapore
Wang Tao, head of China economics
Rose Tong, head of human resources, Asia-Pacific
Betty Tsui, regional market manager China, wealth management, Asia-Pacific
Geraldine Walsh, head of marketing, Asia-Pacific

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