Finance is an industry unlike any other, and those of us who have been in it for a while understand things that onlookers just won't get. From the code words we use to the funny culture we follow, here are eight things, in no particular order, that you'll only understand if you’re a woman in finance.
1. Financiers speak a whole other language.
The frameworks, acronyms, and methodologies vary by company, and it takes a while to learn them all. Every time you make a move, it's back to square one. But on the bright side, we're all smart, so we can deal.
2. What it's like to be the only woman in a room trying to call money shots.
One word: tough. But over time, you get comfortable with it and own your impact. You know your voice is valuable not only because you’re a woman, but because it’s you.
3. The only person who has a plan for you is you.
Over the years, you've learned that you can't walk into your job thinking the company has an established career path for you. Yes, they sold you that this industry is cut and dry. But now you know you have to speak with your boss candidly about your aspirations.
4. Even though money runs the world, finance is slow.
I shifted from tech to finance, which was one extreme to another. I found finance to be slow paced for me. What once took me a few weeks to get done, suddenly took months. Financial decisions don't move as fast as most people think they do. We can't help that you impulse buy Starbucks!
5. While all finance is risky, rules are still your best friend.
There are lots of them. If you’re not a rule follower, finance may not be a place for you. The regulations are specific to prevent serious infractions. And they've saved us all a few times.
6. Mentorship is just part of the job.
Because there are less of us, it means that we need to encourage others to join us to shift the male to female ratio in finance. You will be asked to play a role in this shift by mentoring others and lead in various capacities. Any woman in finance can tell you that.
7. Most of your colleagues are brick walls.
In finance, people tend to be more reserved about their thoughts, feelings, and struggles. You've had to create a community of internal supporters to champion you. And you've (hopefully!) taken advantage of the generous medical benefits for outpatient and inpatient therapies most finance companies offer. There are plenty of resources to promote mental health.
8. Career coaches are actually a thing.
I’ve experienced the impact a coach; which for me, meant that I was able to get clear on my values, setting boundaries, and establishing self accountability to the impact I sought to have in my leadership role. Career coaches are necessary in finance, because as a woman, you're usually calling your own shots for your career. But really — you wouldn't have it any other way.