Chances of promotion come with performance and visibility. Too often rockstar women performers at banks are not visible enough due to a culture overshadowed by men. Rather than waste time on trying to fit in with men, women should focus on being themselves and doing exceptional work, allowing themselves to be bold with ideas and not holding back expressing these ideas in a room full of men.
As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jordan Rupar, a Vice President at Q Advisors, a leading global telecom, media and technology boutique investment bank. Jordan joined Q Advisors in 2012. During this time, she has executed numerous mergers and acquisitions, equity financings and strategic advisory assignments for clients across the telecom, media, and technology (TMT) industries with a particularly deep focus on cloud communications, software and technology, and other emerging growth sectors. Specific clients on whose transactions she has been engaged include: Arkadin, One Source Networks, Telesphere, United Network Services, Inc. and WennSoft. Jordan received her B.S.B.A. in Finance with Distinction, as well as minors in both Mathematics and Economics from the University of Denver.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?
I was looking at what to study and an ultimate career path during the market crash of 2008. I watched in shock as global markets unraveled in what seemed like a matter of days, along with the financial well-being and life savings of so many people, including those of my family and close friends. While searching for answers and understanding for what happened, I quickly realized I personally needed a better understanding of financial markets, namely how money, credit and banking are intertwined. This is how my interest in finance began.
You’re probably asking why on earth I would choose a career in finance at a time like this? The crash and its aftermath certainly didn’t bring me to the conclusion that finance was the field for me. Witnessing thousands of Lehman finance professionals lose their jobs after the firm went belly-up during the crash certainly didn’t inspire me to pursue a career in investment banking either. But my motivating factor to pursue finance was the glaring realization that financial markets control society beyond measure, and that they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Understanding these markets was crucial to me.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
I am often the only woman in the room in terms of both Investment Banking and within the Tech / Telecom sector which is our firm’s core industry focus. Both Investment Banking and Tech / Telecom have a significant gender gap where women represent a shockingly small portion of the workforce. As the youngest VP at my firm, I am also often the youngest person in the room by as many as 20 years.
Breaking the perception of having to be an older male to gain credibility in the finance industry has been a professional hurdle. Sometimes I am met with questions like, “Will a senior Partner be joining us?” at the beginning of an engagement. People will underestimate you based on initial perceptions, whether its age, gender, race, or some other insignificant reason.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Our firm does a ton of work in the communications infrastructure space — i.e. the infrastructure that powers your internet connection and mobile phone network. We are working on several exciting projects that are enabling 5G networks or providing connectivity to rural or underserved markets.
One interesting project I am currently working on is a capital raise for a high-speed connectivity provider for the maritime and commercial aviation markets. Most people are all too familiar with how slow, non-existent, and / or expensive internet connectivity can be on a cruise or commercial flight. Our client’s technology enables high speed connectivity to areas that are either impossible to serve today (think middle of the ocean) and / or at connectivity speeds 10x that of current offerings (put that in context of your average commercial flight).
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our firm is a tech and telecom investment bank and we have deep expertise in several areas from communications infrastructure to cloud communications. We serve as industry thought leaders and are known for our knack for creative “match-making” of buyers and sellers through transformative M&A in our focus sectors. We have also orchestrated several international industry “roll-ups” where a private equity-backed player consolidates several smaller platforms through M&A to create a market leader. As an example, we helped orchestrate the private-equity backed Swyx (German-based) roll-up in the European cloud communications space. Since its investment from Waterland Private equity in 2018, the Company has already purchased Centile (French-based), Voiceworks (Dutch-based), and is currently looking at several additional European cloud deals.
Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?
Generally, I think several Wall Street and Finance sectors like Investment Banking are acutely aware that they have a diversity gap, specifically with gender. It’s no secret to the outside world either and quality candidates are considering this when evaluating these firms. I think firms are starting to realize that by not having a diverse employee base, they are hurting their chances of recruiting top talent.
I’ve noticed a couple of trends that have undoubtedly helped women in finance:
- Women supporting each other to develop their careers and build business
Women are doing a great job supporting each other. This is not necessarily stemming from the “top down” within a finance organization given much of the industry is still dominated by men in leadership roles.
But, I am seeing more women support each other across adjacent fields that are involved in a typical deal. For example, a typical deal might have an investment bank, law firm, and a private equity firm involved — all sectors with a significant gender gap where women are underrepresented. Women are forming meaningful relationships with each other across these fields and ultimately sharing deal flow and opportunities helping each other succeed.
As an example, I am active in a local group called WoMAN: Women of M&A Network, where women in corporate finance; from investment bankers, private equity and legal backgrounds gather to network, share ideas and serve their community. It’s been a great way to form meaningful relationships, help each other generate new business, and support the hiring of women across various areas of finance.
2. Men in leadership positions helping women break into the industry
Some of my best mentors have been men, many of which are currently supervisors or were at one point in time. I think men for the most part like to see women succeed. Men with successful wives and / or daughters, that may be active in or seeking to break into a finance or a related field where women are underrepresented are specifically invested in seeing women reach gender parity in these fields.
Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support this movement going forward?
- Chances of promotion come with performance and visibility. Too often rockstar women performers at banks are not visible enough due to a culture overshadowed by men. Rather than waste time on trying to fit in with men, women should focus on being themselves and doing exceptional work, allowing themselves to be bold with ideas and not holding back expressing these ideas in a room full of men.
- I also believe women networking and supporting each other across adjacent fields such as bankers, lawyers, private equity / venture capital will go a long way for women in leadership roles as this allows these women to generate new business / deals.
- Firms should produce a culture of transparency and set very clear parameters for how performance is evaluated and how this translates to compensation and ultimate promotion. I think this will expose much of the hidden gender bias of few individuals that have held back women in the past. This will ultimately hold everyone more accountable for fairly assessing both men’s and women’s performance for pay and promotion.
You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.
- Read the paper. Pick a publication, whether it be the Wall Street Journal, New York Times or Financial Times, and read the online or print Business or Markets section daily. One will be shocked at how much he or she learns by just reading the daily paper for 15–20 mins. There is too much information out there to learn in a textbook overnight or over a semester. I have done this since my college days, and this has contributed greatly to my knowledge base.
- Live frugally, except for the things you love. Rather than try to budget across all areas, one should pick the area of his or her life that they truly love spending money on and mercilessly cut back on everything else. Personal finance advisor and author, Ramit Sethi calls this a “money dial”. These money dials can be travel, convenience, health, fitness, or relationships. At the end of the day, one will likely wind up at the same place from a savings perspective, but more importantly, he or she will be happier.
- A little debt can be beneficial. Debt has received a bad rap given the massive amount of student loans that have piled up over the years. Debt should be used as a tool and a way to build one’s credit. A small line that is paid off monthly through a credit card is a great way to do this. Having a manageable amount of student loans isn’t bad either as credit scores do benefit by having a diverse “credit mix” (e.g., mix between credit card and student loans). At the end of the day, any type of debt should be minimized but not 100% avoided.
- Store your long-term savings in something besides your bank account. Outside of emergency funds, the worst mistake young people can do is to let their long-term savings sit in a bank account not earning interest or appreciating in value. Yes, the stock market can swing dramatically but it has also returned an annualized 10% annually over the last 20 years. Just do your best to not buy in at the top.
- It’s not the color of money, but whose wallet it comes out of. If one is ever in the position of raising capital for his or her company, fit and partnership are always more important than check size or valuation. A bad partnership can destroy a founder’s long-term wealth and perhaps more importantly his or her happiness and health.
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?
I’ve had many mentors from family and teachers, to industry professionals. Right now I am most grateful for the mentors I currently have in my organization. I work for a great firm with select male mentors who have helped me tremendously.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Life lesson quotes such as “Seek comfort in the uncomfortableness” or “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” resonate with me. Anything about constantly getting out there, challenging yourself, and being bold. This is especially relevant in fields like finance and telecom where I am often the only woman in the room and / or younger often by 20 years.
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 love the idea of encouraging young women to explore studies and eventual careers in STEM. Encouraging women in these subjects will increase their confidence to pursue more analytical fields like finance which are male dominated. My background in math helped encourage me to pursue finance. I love the idea of STEM bootcamps for women sponsored by local companies to give back to their community. Professional women in fields like engineering, mathematics, science and business / finance-related fields could participate and provide mentorship to young women. In my mind, this is the ultimate way to ensure we fill the pipeline and close the gender gap in today’s workforce.
Thank you for all of these great insights!
About The Author:
Tyler Gallagher is the CEO and Founder of Regal Assets, a “Bitcoin IRA” company. Regal Assets is an international alternative assets firm with offices in the United States, Canada, London and Dubai focused on helping private and institutional wealth procure alternative assets for their investment portfolios. Regal Assets is an Inc. 500 company and has been featured in many publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Market Watch and Reuters. With offices in multiple countries, Regal Assets is uniquely positioned as an international leader in the alternative assets industry and was awarded the first ever crypto-commodities license by the DMCC in late 2017. Regal Assets is currently the only firm in the world that holds a license to legally buy and sell cryptos within the Middle East and works closely with the DMCC to help evolve and grow the understanding and application of blockchain technology. In addition to his role with Regal Assets, Tyler is a regular contributor to Forbes, Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and Authority Magazine. Tyler has also been featured in many news publications and has been a guest expert on “The News with Ed Shultz”. Tyler is a proud member of the Forbes Finance Council a private invite only-group of hand-selected industry leaders. Feel free to reach out to Tyler on Linkedin HERE .