J2Talk

June 23, 2022

Women in Business: Finance and Accounting

By
Lauren Kemp

Women in Finance

Katy Huberty, Head of North American Technology Hardware Equity Research, stated, “A career in finance provides women a voice at a table where creative thinking and differentiated views are valued and rewarded. Not only are the challenges complex, but the fast-paced nature of the markets served to provide a near-immediate feedback loop to continuously test your views and deepen your knowledge.” 

During the past 20 years, more women have taken the initiative to start their own businesses than ever before, and they have flourished.

According to a study conducted by Babson College, businesses with women seated in executive positions tend to have far higher valuations than companies with all men in C-level positions (roles at the corporate leadership level, including CEO, CFO, and CMO). Partially women-led companies are worth 64% more at first funding and 49% more at last budget than all-male counterparts. These numbers only appear to be growing, as companies with at least one female executive have tripled from 5% to 15% in the past 15 years; however, there is still more room to improve. 

What Makes Women so Crucial in the Business World?

Women bring numerous benefits to the table.

  • Women have a different life and work experiences that come with new perspectives.
  • This perspective can lead to different opinions, preferences, strategies, and more, allowing for more comprehensive decision-making.
  • Women tend to take longer to approve acquisitions than all-male executive boards. 
  • Women tend to be more risk-averse and focus on strategy than men. In this instance, more careful and informed decisions may be made.

Women in Finance: Is There Equality?

In 2019, Deloitte launched their “Within reach” series to begin the conversation surrounding financial services institutions’ (FSIs) progress toward gender equality, specifically in leadership roles, to uncover strategies that facilitate meaningful growth among women leaders. 

Current Share and Forecasted Growth

With more than two decades of research and encompassing almost 23,000 FSIs in more than 160 countries, Deloitte’s data analysis could predict reasonable measures for the potential growth of women in financial services through 2030. 

Oceania leads the C-suite regional forecast, with nearly 9% growth projected, and it is the only region projected to have 30% of C-suite roles filled by women by 2030. This 30% mark is crucial as research has shown that it is a tipping point toward enacting substantive change across organizations. Europe and the United States are expected to reach at least 6% growth of women in these roles by 2030. 

When considering an array of industries, the share of women fulfilling leadership roles within FSIs compares favorably across 11 sectors, according to S&P Global’s Gender Equality in the Workplace report. 

What is Driving This Change?

The main driver of sustainable change for women in leadership roles is the increase of programs and strategies implemented by FSIs to increase the repetition of women in these roles. External factors help drive this change: public policy, cultural norms, investor expectations, and corporate social responsibility (CSR). 

What Actions can FSIs Take to Help Improve Gender Equality?
  • Address persistent challenges: Challenges include child care needs and remote work availability to support women. Companies should have these areas at the forefront of their recruiting and retaining efforts to better support women. 
  • Ensure FSI leaders offer continuous support: Continuous support can come in different forms. Women's sponsorship, allyship, and mentorship programs at every company level are crucial. 
  • Proactively plan promotional practices and succession planning: In order to find and empower candidates and future leaders, it is vital to ensure each career opportunity is centered around inclusion and diversity. 

Does Involving Women in the C-suite Impact Organizations?

Deloitte found that in North America, every woman added to the C-suite resulted in nearly three additional women among the senior leadership ranks on average. In short, a woman’s presence in a C-suite position positively impacts company performance. To drive meaningful change in the future, consider fostering diversity throughout organizations, including in the highest-level roles. 

Women in Finance Statistics and other Industry Numbers: 

  • Between 2014 and 2019, there was a 21% increase in women-owned businesses.
  • Employment by women-owned companies rose 8% while increasing less than 2% for businesses overall.
  • Women of color made up 50% of women-owned firms in 2019.\
  • It is estimated that women of color-owned companies generate $422.5 billion in annual revenue. 
  • 46% of financial services employees are women; however, only 15% of those are at the executive level.
  • 33% of finance graduates are women.

Who are the Top Women in Finance?

Women are achieving a more significant presence in the world of finance. 

  • Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser became the first woman to lead a significant U.S. money-center bank. Before this achievement, Frasier served as president of Citigroup and as CEO of Global Consumer Banking. She led many groups during the financial crisis, including corporate strategy and other areas.
  • Thasunda Brown Duckett, a JPMorgan Chase executive, was recently named CEO of TIAA, a $1.3 trillion in assets financial services firm. This role makes Duckett the second Black woman currently leading a Fortune 500 firm and the fourth woman in history to achieve a Fortune 500 CEO position. Before becoming CEO of TIAA, Duckett served as CEO of Chase Consumer Banking for more than four years.
  • Stacey Cunningham leads the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) and has spent her entire career in the market as she served as COO, where she oversaw NYSE’s equities, derivatives, and exchange-traded products. In 2018, she became the first female president of the NYSE's 226-year history.

These are just a few highly accomplished women breaking down barriers who have been recognized by Barron’s second annual list of the 100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance. This list includes banking and brokerage executives, money managers and research analysts, financial-company CEOs, public servants, policymakers, and other positions involved in the financial industry. 

Benefits of Getting a Finance Degree:

With finance being a seemingly ever-growing industry, there are several benefits to consider when getting a finance degree. 

A degree in finance allows you to: 

  1. Obtain skills that equip you with real-world responsibilities: finance involves data analytics, risk management, capital allocation, investment strategy, and more. Degree programs involve collaboration, verbal communication, written communication, and other essential skills in the workplace.
  2. Work for various employers: Most financial professions require a bachelor’s degree. Earning a finance degree will provide you with the foundational knowledge to begin your career. 
  3. Better yourself for getting professional certifications: Many financial professionals earn one or more professional certificates. The most common for financial planners is the Certified Financial Planner (CFP), which involves ethical decision-making and professional standards. Finance degree programs focus on topics that prepare graduates to pass professional certifications.
  4. Financially rewarding career path: in 2019, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported the average starting salary of finance majors to be $58,464, while higher positions such as management, directors, and executives typically surpass six figures.
  5. Stable industry growth: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in business and financial operations occupations is projected to grow by 7% by 2028, adding around 591,800 new jobs in these industries. 

What Jobs Can You Get With a Finance Degree? 

Now that you are familiar with some of the benefits of pursuing a finance degree, it makes sense to ponder possible careers within the industry. Although there are many careers in finance, some of the more prominent ones are as follows. 

Loan Officer: Loan Officers assess, authorize, and make recommendations on whether to approve loan applications for both individuals and businesses. They are responsible for collecting and verifying all financial documents to evaluate information and determine an applicant’s need for a loan and their ability to repay borrowed funds. 

  • Median salary, according to the BLS: $63,040

Financial Analyst: Financial Analysts evaluate different investment opportunities for businesses and individuals to help them assess the performance of stocks, bonds, and other investment types. 

  • Median salary, according to the BLS: $80,180

Financial Manager: Financial Managers create reports, develop strategies for long-term financial goals, manage investment activities, and perform other actions to maximize profits. 

  • Median salary, according to the BLS: $127,990

Women in Accounting

Whereas finance is concerned with allocating resources and properly managing funds, accounting involves keeping systematic records of business events and transactions to determine a company’s financial standing. Although similarities exist between the two industries, there are different career paths and support areas among these industries.

Scholarships and grants for women in accounting

What is EFWA, and why is it important? 

EFWA stands for the Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting. These are scholarships granted to women who are earning degrees in accounting. The scholarships encompass undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels. The mission of this program is to support equitable access to career advancement and educational opportunities for women pursuing degrees in this field. 

This financial assistance provides women in accounting with an avenue for more extraordinary achievements. Women who receive this scholarship are better suited to achieve equal opportunities and rewards. The scholarship is coordinated with mentorship programs that allow those in the accounting industry to share their experiences and network with mentees. 

AFWA

Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance scholarships are placed into two categories: open to the public and member-only. 

Public: These scholarships are available to undergraduates and help cover the cost of tuition for accounting or finance students in their third, fourth, or fifth year of college. This scholarship may be awarded to students attending accredited accounting colleges or university programs at the master’s level majoring in accounting or finance for students earning graduate degrees. 

Member: These scholarships are available to applicants that are current members of the organization. In 2011, AFWA enacted a Ph.D. scholarship to members majoring in accounting who demonstrate extreme achievement, leadership, communication skills, character, academic performance, and financial need with the intention of funding to cover research costs. 

This organization also offers certification scholarships for certified public accountants, certified financial planners, and certified management accountants. 

What jobs can you get with an accounting degree? 

Tax Preparer: Tax Preparers help individuals or businesses complete their tax returns and recommend ways in which they can save money on taxes while following international regulations and laws. 

  • Median salary, according to the BLS: $49,550

Certified Public Accountant (CPA): CPAs learn about various industries. They assist companies with financial records in ensuring they are complying with accounting regulations. CPAs require certification in addition to an accounting degree. 

  • Median salary, according to the BLS: $71,550

Personal Finance Advisor: Personal Financial advisors meet with clients to assist them in understanding the state of their finances and recommend investment strategies to help them save for retirement, college, or simply protect their assets. This role also requires additional certification. 

  • Median salary, according to the BLS: $87,850

Women in Accounting Statistics

  • More than 1,076,000 accountants in the United States alone, and 61.8% include women in accounting.
  • Women make up more than half of all accountants and auditors in the United States.
  • Women of color are underrepresented in accounting. In 2018, 71% of all professional staff at certified public accounting firms were white. 
  • Of the firms surveyed, 94% offer modified work arrangements, the most common being flextime. 
  • The majority of accountants are located in New York, NY, and Huston, Texas. 

Although there is still a disconnect of equal compensation between men and women in the workforce, this gap is shrinking. Fortunately, more and more women are getting involved in the financial and accounting industries and the business world. With resources such as the EFWA and other measures to improve gender equality, the future is bright for women in these industries. Women will continue to have more promising opportunities in the finance and accounting spaces in the future. 

Written by Lauren Kemp

Lauren Kemp, Communications and Marketing Specialist at J2T, earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management with a minor in Latin American studies and a Master of Science in Innovation and Management from Montana State University. Lauren hails from Montana and enjoys reading about the history of her home state. Her bucket-list items include touring the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and taking an immersion trip to Chile to experience Latin American culture first-hand.