Business Review sat down with Hedva Ber, Deputy CEO and Global Chief Operating Officer at eToro, to talk about her role in the company and her transition from the traditional banking industry to the fintech sector, but also about the FemaleLeadership portfolio, gender equality and gender-balanced leadership.
- You’ve recently celebrated your first year in your current role at eToro; what can you tell us about this period and how was your transition after more than 25 years in the traditional banking/finance industry to a fintech company?
As someone from the traditional banking industry, I chose to join eToro out of a belief in the company’s vision and management.
Ensuring eToro continues to operate at the highest level of regulatory standards, corporate governance and risk management is a key part of the ongoing investment in the company’s operational capabilities to support its rapid growth and create value for its customers and investors.
eToro is an innovative leader in global fintech and a business at the forefront of the new world of investing. We place a strong focus on providing the very best experience to our clients while rigorously adhering to global regulations and applying the highest standards of operational excellence. eToro will remain at the forefront of best practice as we scale the business.
- In March this year, eToro launched the FemaleLeadership portfolio, have you seen any results as of yet and what are the main takeaways of this project during its first few months?
eToro’s FemaleLeadership Smart Portfolio was launched to offer investors long-term exposure to companies already exhibiting strong gender-equality credentials and awareness. The portfolio is composed of 35 US-listed companies from the existing eToro stocks universe, ranked according to a range of metrics including gender diversity, analyst consensus ratings, stock liquidity, and market capitalization. In order to qualify, at least 40% of both the company’s executives and Board of Directors must be women.
The initial allocation of eToro’s new FemaleLeadership portfolio is weighted more heavily towards the consumer and communications sectors, with a particular focus on retail and internet companies, as per the ranking model mentioned above. The composition includes familiar brands whose leadership teams have made important progress on the road to gender equality, including Disney, GAP, Uber, Paramount Global and Hewlett-Packard. The current full allocation can be found here.
- You’ve been very vocal about the importance of gender-balanced leadership in companies; what are your strategies and objectives in this regard (both personal and in your role as Deputy CEO and Global COO)?
eToro’s mission is to open the global markets so that everyone can trade and invest in a simple and transparent way. The word everyone is an important one. eToro is proud to have over 27 million registered users, however, our goal is to have a platform which is inclusive and represents the populations of the countries in which eToro operates.
Gender is only one aspect of diversity, but it is an important one. eToro has created InvestWithHer, a community designed by women for women. It includes a series of financial workshops, for beginners and also professionals, for equipping females with the confidence and knowledge to start investing and become Popular Investors. eToro hopes that by creating a community for women to connect and share insights together, with tools and online webinars for empowering them to invest with confidence, it can promote diversity in the investment domain and assist females with realizing their financial potential.
- When it comes to women in leadership roles, Romania has a better ratio than the EU average, but certainly there’s a lot of progress to be made, still. Why do you think Romania is in this position and what are the next steps to be taken to create a more inclusive leadership environment, both in our country, but also worldwide?
I salute the results of the European Institute for Gender Equality, which shows that Romania has, indeed, the highest share of women in top executive positions in the EU (31.6%), above the EU average of 20.8%. I am happy to see that Romania has been making progress in terms of women inclusion in business, however, from my understanding, the report only covers publicly-traded companies. I believe that more steps are to be taken in terms of gender balance and not only in Romania. Usually, women in leadership positions are promoted less frequently than their male peers and data shows there are still gender pay gaps in the EU.
I believe it all starts from management teams and leaders who have to start learning how to create an inclusive environment, who must actively recruit and hire women, and assist with building the next generation of females in management roles by offering more opportunities for training, career growth and networking.
- Certainly, the future will become more and more inclusive, but what are the best ways to nurture and inspire female leadership in the younger generations?
Female leadership and boardroom diversity have proven advantages, not just for company culture but also for business growth and development.
Women clearly want to improve their finances, and crave more education around investing. We need to respond to the calls for more female role models and ensure they represent the diversity of women who could benefit from knowing more about investing. Financial education is key for independence and while progress is being made there is more work to do. We have a responsibility to make a positive difference to women’s lives now and in the future.