Financial services was among the many industries that was predominantly male-dominated for a long time. However, things have changed in the past decade.
Today, we see a number of successful women professionals in the country who are playing key roles in shaping India's financial sector. Many women are setting an example for those wanting to pursue a career in the financial sector by holding key roles in both government and private organisations.
Let us get to know some of these financial companies and their women leaders:
Hansi Mehrotra- Founder of The Money Hans
The Money Hans is the investor education initiative of Hansi Mehrotra. It aims to teach anyone to ask better questions on personal finance, and invest in a fun and simple way.
A financial consultant who went from Unnao in Uttar Pradesh to Australia, Hansi was determined to crunch numbers. Today, with 20 years of experience, her financial services include setting up online tools for investment research and consulting on wealth management. Hansi has a certificate on private wealth from Wharton/Institute for Private Investors (IPI) and the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter from CFA Institute. Hansi focusses on employing and educating women to break the stereotypical notions of numbers being boring and hard to understand, and that number-crunching is not a woman’s job. She hopes to bring more women into the fold.
She has set up and led the wealth management segment for Mercer in Australia, the investment consulting business based in Australia and Singapore, and was a consultant on the National Pension System.
Hardika Shah - Founder & CEO, Kinara Capital
Kinara Capital was founded by Hardika Shah in 2011 to address financial inclusion for small business entrepreneurs in India. It disrupted small business lending in India by providing loans without taking any land or property collateral.
Prior to starting Kinara Capital, Hardika spent two decades as a management consultant with Accenture, driving billion-dollar client projects across multiple industries around the globe. An MBA graduate from Columbia Business School and Haas School of Business, she has a decade of involvement in the social entrepreneurship field as a mentor with Santa Clara University, Stanford University, Accenture Development Partnerships, the Acumen Fund and Columbia Business School.
RM Vishakha - MD and CEO, IndiaFirst Life Insurance
Ever since RM Vishakha became the MD and CEO of IndiaFirst Life Insurance in 2015, the company has produced impressive numbers under her leadership. The life insurer's APE (annual premium equivalent) in FY17 stood at ₹635 crore, up 47 percent year-on-year.
A chartered accountant by qualification, Vishakha joined New India Assurance in 1987 in Hyderabad as an accountant. She later shifted to New Delhi with the insurance company.
Prior to joining India First Life Insurance, she has worked with multiple insurance companies including IDBI Federal Life Insurance and Canara HSBC Oriental Bank of Commerce Life Insurance Company.
Zarin Daruwala- CEO at Standard Chartered Bank
Zarin Daruwala took charge as CEO of Standard Chartered Bank India in 2016. She was a rank holder in her chartered accountancy examination, and had received a gold medal when she qualified as a company secretary. Under her leadership, she ensured a consistent and sharper trajectory of growth and profitability, an improved credit culture, and a focussed approach on priority sector lending for the bank.
Before joining the Standard Chartered Bank, Zarin has worked with the ICICI Group, where she had stints in various departments such as Human Resources, corporate planning, investment banking and credit. She has held leadership positions in various fields, including corporate finance and agri-business.
Smriti Tomar- Founder of InvestoAsia
Smriti Tomar’s bond with finance started as a teenager when she used to explore equity investments via her father’s Demat account. As soon as she turned 18, she made her own account and continued investing with it.
A graduate in technology from NIT Bhopal, Smriti was always interested in finance. Prior to starting up, she worked at Citibank’s Banamex. She is certified by IBM and The Hong Kong University as a blockchain developer. All these worked as a base for her to start up.
Smriti’s startup InvestoAsia leverages blockchain technology to help retail investors to easily invest in international markets, especially in China and South Korea. Based in Gurugram and Hong Kong, InvestoAsia claims to be a “financial lifestyle product” that aims to redefine personal finance with the power of other advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
(Edited by Anju Narayanan)