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Lessons From the Female Titans of Wall Street: Camilla Churcher

I would agree that there has been some progress, but Wall Street still has a very long way to go in terms of diversity of all kinds and we shouldn’t forget that. It’s clear from the recent initiatives on pay transparency that a substantial gender wage gap still exists, and is at its most extreme […]


I would agree that there has been some progress, but Wall Street still has a very long way to go in terms of diversity of all kinds and we shouldn’t forget that. It’s clear from the recent initiatives on pay transparency that a substantial gender wage gap still exists, and is at its most extreme at senior leadership levels. This, unfortunately, tells us that the boys club has not gone away.

Change is being driven by multiple factors (too many for us to discuss today). Ultimately financial institutions have started to understand, and been told by their shareholders, that not only is diversity the right thing to do, but it’s beneficial for creativity and profitability as well.

These are powerful incentives to make change. However implementing change in these large organizations is difficult and requires absolutely steadfast leadership and commitment at every level of the recruiting and promotional process. Above all, you need to create an environment where people of all backgrounds can be successful. Individual biases can also be subconscious, which is something I think we need to understand and address more openly in order to make change.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Camilla Churcher, the Head of Sales at LGO Markets, a digital asset exchange transforming the model for how institutions can access the cryptocurrency markets in a fair and transparent manner. Prior to joining LGO, Camilla spent the majority of her career in Prime Brokerage Sales at leading Wall Street investment firms, where she has grown and managed large institutional hedge fund and asset management relationships. After graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 2000, Camilla started her career in London, developing expertise in Fixed Income and FX Prime Brokerage. She moved to New York in 2005 for a new Prime Brokerage opportunity where she was responsible for generating financing and execution revenues from global, multi-asset investment firms. In addition to Prime Brokerage, Camilla has experience in futures and OTC derivatives clearing sales. Camilla lives in New York City with her partner and three children.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?

Thank you for inviting me to speak with you! It’s an honor to be included in this series, and my hope is that I can provide some useful insights and be a resource for other women in finance.

At university, I studied French and European history and was interested in a career in advertising or media, and not financial services! To my surprise, one week of work experience at a European investment bank in equities sales and trading completely changed my mind and I decided this was the path I wanted to pursue. It was the most exciting, interesting and dynamic working environment I had experienced.

My first role was in private wealth management at a US investment firm, after which I found an opportunity to work in the fixed income financing business at a firm in London, which was starting to build out their European prime brokerage offering. I was very fortunate to join a new business in a growing sector.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are many people who have been instrumental at different points in my career, and for different reasons.

In terms of the firms I’ve worked at, I’ve had the great fortune to have several managers who saw potential in me that I had not yet realized, gave me incredible opportunities, and supported me along the way. This kind of sponsorship is hard to find and critical to everyone’s career. One of these individuals gave me the opportunity to come to the US for a role, and this took not only my career, but my life in an entirely different direction and one I have never looked back from.

I would also say that there are clients who have played a role in my professional development by taking the time to help educate me and provide mentorship and advice along the way, and many of these individuals remain friends.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Everything we’re building at LGO Markets is an exciting project! After 18 years at large Wall Street investment firms I joined LGO because I truly believe we are helping to drive the next phase of evolution in financial markets. At LGO, our vision is to build a bridge between traditional financial markets and new technology, such as cryptographics and blockchain technology.

Our first project is to re-design the crypto currency exchange model and create a platform that is truly suitable for institutions. Crypto currencies, while nascent, have the potential to be an immense source of wealth creation and institutions will need to participate for their customers. We believe our platform is helping to solve a fundamental issue in the market structure which will enable more people to gain exposure to this new asset class. That’s very exciting.

We also believe that longer term this technology will help democratize investing, improve operational efficiency and reduce costs in the financial system.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

LGO Markets is a young company with a big vision, but I would say that what makes us stand out is the clarity of that vision and our pragmatic approach. We are in the business of building and delivering real solutions one piece at a time.

Wall Street used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change? What lessons can be learned from that to support this change going forward?

I would agree that there has been some progress, but Wall Street still has a very long way to go in terms of diversity of all kinds and we shouldn’t forget that. It’s clear from the recent initiatives on pay transparency that a substantial gender wage gap still exists, and is at its most extreme at senior leadership levels. This, unfortunately, tells us that the boys club has not gone away.

Change is being driven by multiple factors (too many for us to discuss today). Ultimately financial institutions have started to understand, and been told by their shareholders, that not only is diversity the right thing to do, but it’s beneficial for creativity and profitability as well.

These are powerful incentives to make change. However implementing change in these large organizations is difficult and requires absolutely steadfast leadership and commitment at every level of the recruiting and promotional process. Above all, you need to create an environment where people of all backgrounds can be successful. Individual biases can also be subconscious, which is something I think we need to understand and address more openly in order to make change.

Can you tell us the top challenge that many women face when they step from a from mid level position to a senior board?

Lack of sponsorship.

Everyone needs to have at least one sponsor to even have the chance of progressing to this level. A sponsor is someone in a position of influence who believes in you, will advocate for you and take an active role in helping you develop your career. It may be a direct manager or someone that you work with.

Sponsorship is something that needs to develop organically, however I think that being noticed by a potential sponsor and forging that connection is harder for women. Women should be conscious about cultivating sponsors, but we also need more people in leadership positions to look a bit harder at the pool of talent and be open to sponsoring women and other diverse candidates.

I know women who tell themselves that they will not try to take up senior executive roles because they want to prioritize being a “good mother”. In your experience, are the two really in conflict? What suggestions would you give to balance both?

That’s a very difficult question to answer, as every parent has to determine what they want from both their professional and personal life.

For me, having a family and a career is extremely fulfilling. Each role makes me better at the other and I want to continue to be challenged professionally. In my experience, everyone is highly motivated to continue to progress in their careers if they’re able to achieve the right balance with their home life. The perception is that a senior job will require much longer hours, more stress, long-distance travel. However, all of these things can be managed with the right support, resources and effective delegation.

I also believe in taking responsibility for your own work/life balance and making sure that you set your own ground rules for what you can manage. In the right environment, there shouldn’t be a trade-off between a job and “being a good mother/parent/friend/spouse” etc.

Boards are more effective when there is diversity in its members. What are 3 benefits that bank boards will see if they seek to be more inclusive of women?

Diversity — if an organization is trying to promote diversity, then what sends a better example than including female leadership on their board? This is a very powerful statement to other women inside the company, and to attract others who might be more interested to work there. Not to mention the benefits of having a different perspective in the board discussions themselves.

Risk management — having women on a board can provide a different perspective to risk management. The purpose of a board, in addition to ensuring the company is creating value, is to protect the company’s interests by addressing current risks or to foresee and prepare for potential risks. This also goes back to diversity, but the benefits are manifested in risk management.

Profitability — studies have shown that companies with diverse boards perform better than those without. It’s simply good practice to try and proactively recruit skilled and experienced female members.

Sadly there is a gender stereotype that men are “more strategic” than women. This perception may be one of the reasons why boards have a smaller female representation. What should be done for women to position themselves as strategic leaders?

Women should not have to change their behavior to be more like men to be successful, and to me, this fundamentally negates the idea of diversity.

The concept of diversity should be embraced to take full advantage of diversity of thinking. How people address problems, generate ideas and behave in different situations, which can be due to a myriad of things that make up an individual’s’ personality. Gender, ethnicity, nationality, age and many other factors play a part.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are pervasive and can take generations to change, so my advice is to keep challenging them. Speak up. Remain steadfast in your ideas and be vocal about your opinions. Be yourself.

Which organization would you encourage a woman aspiring to be on a bank board to join?

There is no specific organization I would recommend for someone to join, but I would absolutely encourage participation on a board of any kind — for profit, or not for profit. Given the additional commitment the organization should represent something you’re passionate about. Participating in boards is a great way to build leadership experience, or have the satisfaction of applying years of experience to benefit others. It’s also a way to grow your network and learn about other fields.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You work with me, not for me.”

No matter how large, bureaucratic or hierarchical the organization you work for, or how many years of experience you have, remember that you are an equal, you have a seat at the table and should make your voice heard. This quote came from a manager very early on in my career and it was incredibly liberating.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would remind people to be kind and courteous. Being kind and treating people with respect is a conscious decision, and one that can have a profound impact.

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