Women in Financial Services: The Shameful Truth

MarketAxess' Miranda Morad chats to Victor Anderson about the long road ahead to meaningful gender equality for the financial services industry.

Miranda Morad, MarketAxess

Miranda Morad, general counsel for Europe and Asia at MarketAxess, won the legal/compliance professional of the year category in this year’s Women in Technology & Data Awards. She chats to Victor Anderson about her entry to the financial services industry, the shameful truth regarding the numbers of women across the industry, and the regulatory issues currently on her radar.     

WatersTechnology: How did you get into the industry? Was ending up in the financial services industry always part of your plan?  

Miranda Morad, general counsel (Europe and Asia), MarketAxess:  Not at all. Originally, I qualified in international arbitration and worked on international border disputes. But I was brought up to believe that work needs to facilitate life, not the other way around. Along the way, I spent time as private equity lawyer. I also qualified as an attorney in Israel, and eventually ended up in-house in financial services in the City. I would never have thought I would have ended up in financial services, but now that I am here, I love it and have found my niche. I suppose the lesson is that there are barriers to entry which may be stronger in their perception than reality.      

WatersTechnology: Have you noticed much change in terms of the financial services industry offering a more ‘level playing field’ for all participants, irrespective of their gender?

Morad: Sadly, no. The financial services industry has a very long way to go. No-one should shy away from that truth. Often in meetings, I do a quick calculation of the percentage of women present; 20% is normal, but anything over 30% feels like a rarity. The ratio is usually better if the focus of the meeting is not the front line – which I suppose speaks for itself.  Today I had a business meeting with four attendees, all women. It was so unusual, I had to take a moment to call it out and celebrate it.

Recently I was in a meeting of 40 or so business leaders in financial services. I was one of only two women at the table and four in the room – the other two were taking minutes. It was, and is, shameful. 

Recently I was in a meeting of 40 or so business leaders in financial services. I was one of only two women at the table and four in the room – the other two were taking minutes. It was, and is, shameful. 

WatersTechnology: To what extent does MarketAxess have a formalized framework to attract talented women and ensure that they are provided with the best possible opportunities to realize their potential to the ultimate benefit of the business?

Morad: We don’t have a formalized program yet, although one is in development, but it is an important focus of our leadership team. I am proud that my team has a 50/50 gender balance, although of course Ruth Bader Ginsburg wouldn’t consider that to be anywhere near enough.  She famously said that it would only be enough when there were nine women Supreme Court Justices – after all, no-one raised a question about there being nine men.

WatersTechnology: To what extent are you able to act as a role model/mentor within the business and the wider business community

Morad: I believe strongly in mentorship and sponsorship. I’d like to think I have something to offer as a mentor or role model beyond my gender. It’s not only women who face challenges, but we can bring what we learn in overcoming those challenges to the table, in the interests of everyone. I’m interested in having a team where each individual can achieve their full potential as an individual and as a professional without one needing to cancel out the other, regardless of gender. 

WatersTechnology: Do you have any role models that you find particularly inspiring as a woman working in what is ostensibly still a man’s domain? 

Morad: I’m sad to say I have never had a female boss or professional mentor. In fact, I find it hard to recall a single situation in my entire professional life where another woman was the most senior individual in the room. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but that it is all too rare. Instead, I seek inspiration and support from female friends and colleagues and look to share their insights with the women with whom I work. 

WatersTechnology: We are in uncharted waters with respect to Brexit and what it might ultimately mean to market participants. To what extent does Brexit feature on your radar from a business and legal perspective?   

Morad: Brexit has swallowed the past two years with increasing voracity, but it is not our only focus. It features more highly on my radar than the rest of the business globally, which is probably right. Charting the path through the uncertainty is both frustrating and challenging, not to mention costly for business. If nothing else, it has meant we need to be ready for any outcome. At MarketAxess, we moved early and made decisions within a few months of the referendum, and it was the right thing to do. Now we are in a position to look ahead beyond the challenges of Brexit.

 

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