As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, it’s important to highlight the achievements and contributions of women across industries, including finance. In this interview, Jessica Beckstead, Managing Director for North America and CEO for the United States, shares her experiences and insights on gender equality in the sector.
Her advice to women starting a career in finance and her efforts to promote greater equality and acceptance across the financial sector are especially timely on this day when the world celebrates women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements while recognizing work that still needs do for gender equality.
Q: What made you want to enter the financial industry?
It all started when I studied international politics and economics in college. I started daytrading. I found it really exciting, so I made the decision to go into finance and trading, but the stock market didn’t really appeal to me – I wanted a more global perspective. In 2004, I started as a trader at FXCM and worked my way up the career ladder until eventually becoming Managing Director and CEO of FXCM Australia before joining OANDA last September. My first role when I started as a trader was serving Asian markets so I worked from 2pm to 2am which wasn’t a good way to meet people in a new city but we all have to start somewhere. It was amazing for me to be able to follow my passion and combine it with what I learned in college.
Q: What advice would you give to women who want to work in crypto/finance?
Find a mentor who is already in that space who can guide and guide you through some of the obstacles you will face and give you a sense of what you are dealing with. There are so many organizations dedicated to women in tech and finance these days, so that would be my advice to anyone starting out. You see that leaders want to nurture these relationships and help develop them. This is something I try to prioritize as part of my role at OANDA.
Q: What are the three most important lessons you’ve learned during your career?
When I was promoted to managerial positions:
- Always explain “why”. Why do we do certain things as a company? Why does it matter? Not just giving orders.
- Being transparent. If you’re trying to embellish things or not telling the whole story, in my experience it backfires. So, explaining why you earn what you earn, why the results are what they are, etc.
- Balancing the bigger picture with weeds. This was crucial as I moved into more executive roles. It is absolutely necessary to always have a view of 30,000 feet, but this must be balanced with not being afraid of getting in the weeds and understanding the point. Understanding what exactly you are asking your employees for and what it looks like on a daily basis is invaluable in my opinion.
Q: What are the most difficult aspects of being a CEO in finance?
The forex and crypto segments in the financial industry are particularly dynamic. The forex market alone has an average daily turnover of $7.5 trillion. Very often you need to be able to assimilate information, analyze it and make decisions (preferably accurate) very quickly.
The industry has changed a lot since I started in 2004 and regulation has been a big part of that change. It has certainly helped to increase the credibility of the industry, but keeping up with the changes and balancing their implementation with educating customers on how to prepare for these changes is definitely a challenge.
Q: A recent OANDA survey revealed that more traders plan to invest in crypto this year than male traders. Why do you think that is?
There have been many studies on why there are fewer women traders than male traders, and many studies point to the fact that women are more risk averse. If they had $10,000, they are statistically more likely to put it into a savings account than to exchange it. Although if we look at trading success rates, traders tend to be more disciplined which can lead to better results.
For us in this industry, it’s important that we emphasize ways to manage risk – adding stops and limits to trades, making sure we minimize the use of leverage, and generally providing more education to increase female participation.
Q: What are the female role models that inspired you when you first took your first steps in finance?
I’ve always admired Sallie Krawcheck. I admired the way she worked her way up the ladder at a time when there were very few women in positions like hers, and how she persevered in the face of adversity.
Q: What are your goals as CEO of OANDA? What are you doing to promote greater equality and acceptance in the financial sector?
Our motto is “Smarter Commerce” and it truly reflects our approach to things at OANDA. Our goal is to provide our customers with best-in-class products and continuously improve them. Some of the improvements we will be making this year include improved charts, the launch of a loyalty program to reward our customers and something I am very excited about – more in-person events where we will have the opportunity to provide additional education to our customers as well as spend some time to get to know them.
While it is clear that there are challenges to be addressed in terms of gender equality in the financial industry, it is also encouraging to see the progress made. As more women enter the industry and become role models for others, the future of female entrepreneurs and managers in the crypto industry looks bright.
Learn more about OANDA on the company’s official website.
Reservation. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or products on this site. While our goal is to provide all the important information we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any action related to the company and take full responsibility for their decisions, and this article should not be considered investment advice.