Diversity problem in fintech can be solved in three steps

22 Apr 2016

Speaking at the FPAI’s Fintech Nation were (l-r) Beachut’s Paul Hayes, Alastair Blair, country manager of Accenture Ireland and Anna Scally, fintech leader at KPMG Ireland and a director of the FPAI. Image via Luke Maxwell

Fintech is an area exploding with ideas, companies and funding. But, is it being spread around fairly? We heard from some of the members of the Fintech and Payments Association of Ireland (FPAI) at the recent Fintech Nation event to find out just how diverse an industry it is.

Gender diversity is a pressing concern throughout the tech industry, with the evidence clear in areas like engineering, right up to higher profile positions in management and leadership.

However that’s not quite the case in finance, according to Anna Scally, fintech leader at KPMG Ireland and a director of the FPAI. “It is male dominated, particularly in the tech side,” she said. “Not so much financial services side.”

“I want the best brains working in fintech. What we need to do is make sure everybody who wants to work in fintech feels welcome to work in fintech,” she said.

Three-step solution

But how can we do this? According to Alastair Blair, country manager of Accenture Ireland, the answer is three-fold.

“Let’s get role models out there. People are drawn to people,” he said, before claiming that accelerator programmes and the like could be tailored better to “have streams” that produce funded female entrepreneurs.

“Then we have to go on a marketing campaign when there has been a success,” he said, nodding towards the social entrepreneurs area, where female entrepreneurs “have had great success”.

Last October, amid an increasing number of fintech start-ups, incubators, accelerators and established banks looking to the future of fintech, the FPAI was created.

Open to all related companies from start-up level to fully-fledged multinationals, the group spans software and app developers, as well as established institutions involved in the financial sector, such as banks, legal firms and governmental departments.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic