Women's history month: 4 powerful women in finance

By H&T Pawnbrokers Wed, Aug 03, 2022
While the world of finance was once perhaps seen as a man's game, women are really coming to the forefront of this industry. In fact, a recent review has found that almost 40% of board positions in the UK FTSE 100 firms are now held by women (BBC News). This important change in the industry couldn't have happened without the hard work and dedication of some fantastic women in finance.

March is an important month for women — not only is it women's history month, but March 8th is International Women's Day. To celebrate both events, we've put together this list of some of the most influential and powerful women in finance to recognise their remarkable achievements and inspire women looking to get into the industry.

Baroness Shriti Vadera

Shriti has had a long and vibrant career in finance, and has been an inspiration for women across the industry. She was born in Uganda, but was forced to flee to India at just 10 years old as Ugandan Asians were expelled from the country with only 90 days of notice. She moved to England at the age of fifteen, and just a few years later began studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford.

She acted as an Economic Adviser for the government from 1999 to 2007, but came to prominence in her role of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for International Development. It's no surprise that Shriti was chosen for the role, as she was known as being a strong and powerful woman who could get things done.

Since then, she's gone on to do even more remarkable things, including becoming the first woman to run a major British Bank when she became the Chair of Santander UK in 2014. And in 2021, Shriti made history again by becoming both the first woman and the first person of colour to chair the Royal Shakespeare Company. Shriti's vast experience in finance and her ability to break into roles previously only held by men easily makes her one of the most determined and powerful women in finance.

Zanny Minton Beddoes

The Economist is a fantastic financial newspaper, and is popular amongst influential business leaders and government officials, as well as the general public. And in 2015, history was made when Zanny Minton Beddoes became the newspaper's first woman to be the Economist's editor-in-chief in its 171 years of publication.

Zanny joined the newspaper all the way back in 1994, when she was a correspondent on emerging markets, and just two years later got promoted to the role of Economics editor. Under Zanny's leadership as editor-in-chief, the newspaper has been doing better than ever, with an impressive 9% increase in subscribers in 2020/21 (PressGazette). As well as being a powerful woman in finance, Zanny is considered by many to be one of the world's most influential financial journalists.

Ana Botín

Ana Botín has frequently been deemed to be one of the most successful businesswomen in the world. In fact, Financial Times named her as the top European businesswomen in 2005 and 2006, and Forbes ranked her as the 8thmost powerful woman for three consecutive years from 2018 – 2020.

It's easy to see why she's considered to be so influential. In 2014, she became the Executive Chair of Santander after her father's sudden passing, which made her the first female chair of a global financial organisation. But she had a terrific career in finance long before this role too. In 2002 she became the executive chairperson of the Spanish bank Banesto, and became a director of The Coca-Cola Company in 2013. Her vast amount of experience and incredibly important roles make her one of the most influential women in finance today.

Luiza Trajano

Not only is Luiza Trajano one of the most influential women in Brazil, but she's by far one of the most powerful women in finance. She started her career in a gift shop run by her relatives, and transformed the business from a single family shop into a major Brazilian retail brand, known as Magazine Luiza. Today, there are over 1000 branches across the country.

As well as being a remarkable businesswoman, Luiza has done amazing work in championing women's rights. Today she is the chair of Grupo Mulheres Do Brasil, which is a group of influential Brazilian businesswomen who promote equal rights for all and encourage other Brazilian women to help them improve their country for all citizens.

She’s also a passionate advocate for victims of domestic violence. After a Magazine Luiza employee was tragically killed by her husband, she created a domestic violence hotline for all of her employees to use. The hotline provides counselling services, legal support, and even offers help for employees who need to relocate. Luiza isn't just a powerful woman in finance, but helps the women who need it most, making her a truly special role model.