Female CMOs are building some of fintech’s fastest-growing brands
Fintech has a gender diversity issue.
Women represent less than 11% of board members and 19% of company executives in the fintech industry, market researcher Findexable found in 2021.
Less than 6% of fintech CEOs globally are women, Findexable found, and even fewer are chief innovation or chief technology officers.
One position they do have higher representation in, however, is chief marketing officer — and women CMOs are building some of the fastest-growing brands in fintech today.
Sheri Chin, for example, is the CMO at Galileo, the payment processing company that powers banks Chime and Varo, which increased client accounts by 40% year-over-year in 2022’s third quarter — from 88.8 million to 124.3 million.
And Anne Hay is vice president and head of marketing at billing platform PayNearMe, which, from January 2021 to June 2022, increased transaction volume by more than 50% and grew the number of merchants on its platform by 20%.
“These companies are rapidly expanding financial services by filling unmet needs in the market and creating brands that deeply resonate with their customers,” said Jennifer Tramontana, founder of fintech-focused marketing firm The Fletcher Group, which recently conducted a survey of female fintech CMOs and CMO-adjacent executives.
In October, TFG’s 2022 Female Fintech CMO Report laid out the insights its subjects provided and what they mean for the future of fintech. One such insight is that, overall, fintech CMOs aren’t worried about a softening capital environment because it flushes the market of companies without a solid pathway to profitability.
“It helps drive more discipline with better due diligence and a more critical eye toward spending and partnerships,” according to the report. “There is a freedom that comes with getting back to the basics of product/market fit and away from ‘growth at all costs’ and the race for valuations.”
Additionally, per the report, CMOs aren’t planning to cut marketing spend in 2023, and they’re investing more in public relations and owned content — especially long-form content, like white papers and eBooks, which better tell a story on how their companies fulfill a need.
“To be effective in fintech, marketing teams are going to have to be able to communicate their vision. To the extent that prospective clients understand how you’re going to help, that’s where CMOs in fintechs need to be,” Hay said.
The global nature of the fintech market makes it challenging to personalize messaging. Michelle Faul, vice president of global marketing at B2B payment processor TreviPay, said that makes it even more important.
TreviPay is headquartered in Kansas City, a place Faul says has a healthy tech startup presence. The company counts customers nationwide and in 32 countries.
“Making sure you’re leading with empathy and ensuring to personalize your message based on the geography [is important],” Faul said. “Even with the way they talk about the challenges, making sure you understand their challenges in their words — it’s one of the pillars of our marketing to make sure they feel heard, and we’re positioning it in a way that they understand.”
That perspective is paying off: TreviPay processes $6 billion in transaction volume in 19 currencies, and the company has experienced recent growth.
Even in a challenging macroeconomy, fintech marketers are eager storytellers. While they’re passionate about the technology, they’re perhaps even more so about who and what will be benefiting from it.
“The one thing I’m very excited about is really telling the technology story,” said Priya Rajan, DataVisor’s vice president of marketing. “In terms of providing education and bringing credibility, I think telling the story of these experts in a way that’s simple and valuable [matters].”
“In my current role ... I try to uncover the story of how DataVisor really transforms the way we manage risk today in a way that’s real-time but also cost-effective. Fraud management should not exceed the cost of fraud itself,” Rajan added. “You need [return on investment]. ... Aligning these business objectives and being able to connect the dots is something I’m super excited about and super proud of.”
Representation of women in fintech leadership is steadily improving, mostly at newer firms, the International Monetary Fund found. The business case is there: Citing a McKinsey study, the IMF reported that gender diversity on the boards of nonfinancial and financial firms is correlated with positive financial performance. Citing a Credit Suisse study on gender diversity and corporate performance, the IMF said higher share prices are, too.
Harvard Business Review, too, found that female-led finance and investment firms were more likely to “reinvest, create jobs and have higher levels of innovation than their male counterparts.”
“The way that women approach and think about [things] … I think it’s really important to have that equal representation at all levels,” Hay said. “Organizations will benefit from different ways of thinking about things.”