Women Leading The Finance Industry: “Investors need to continue to be vocal about diversity” With Catherine Banat of the Royal Bank of Canada

Investors should continue to be vocal about diversity. Researchers need to continue to develop fact-based studies to support those who want to drive change. Companies need to acknowledge that women represent 75% of purchasing decisions, 51% of the population, and 60% of the wealth in the nation. I had the pleasure of interviewing Catherine Banat, Director […]

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Investors should continue to be vocal about diversity. Researchers need to continue to develop fact-based studies to support those who want to drive change. Companies need to acknowledge that women represent 75% of purchasing decisions, 51% of the population, and 60% of the wealth in the nation.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Catherine Banat, Director of Responsible Investing in the US at Royal Bank of Canada Global Asset Management. Catherine leads the development of RBC GAM’s responsible investing distribution platform in the US. She works with clients and prospects to identify their responsible investing goals.

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 drawn to finance while at Columbia Business School. The ability to assess decisions through formulas was very appealing to me.

For me, numbers seem a very straight-forward way of communicating. In practice, I quickly learned that nothing was that simple. Even the numbers require some level of assumptions and judgment. At the end of the day, human capital is the great asset in Finance.

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 got my job at Goldman Sachs by answering an ad in the New York Times. I’ve never met anybody who has been that lucky. The lesson that I learned is that you can’t control where you will be, but you are always meant to be where you are.

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

As Director of Responsible Investing in the U.S. for RBC Global Asset Management, my role is to work with asset owners to enhance their understanding of responsible investing, the value proposition, and the various investment approaches available.

I have the great privilege of being responsible to help mobilize dollars for responsible investing. This is a very exciting time for investors as they learn the effectiveness of managing money, incorporating such factors as ESG considerations, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the ability to measure the impact of their investment dollars. ESG integration, for example, reduces portfolio risk and enhances long-term sustainable performance. Many investors seek to understand the value proposition and to identify asset managers truly dedicated to that value proposition.

This is a trend that is gaining momentum because it looks at building long-term sustainable value for investors by seeking long-term sustainable practices within companies. These sustainable practices cut across a broad swath of factors:

· Environmentally sustainable practices such as tracking carbon footprints of sourcing in a sustainable way;

· Socially sustainable human capital practices that focus on employee engagement, for example, recognize that diverse teams make better decisions and assure fair labor practices;

· Strong governance practices that focus on fair executive compensation, effective management oversight, and diverse board composition.

These considerations lead to long-term sustainable performance.

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

At RBC GAM, we believe that being an active, engaged and responsible owner empowers us to enhance the long-term, sustainable performance of our portfolios. RBC GAM is committed to helping clients thrive and communities prosper. Being a part of that on a daily basis makes me feel good about my job. The commitment to Responsible Investing starts at the very top of the organization.

For one of our strategies, we help investors target their investment dollars to their local communities. We have galvanized several communities to invest together and see the power of collaboration when applied to investors’ portfolios. For example, a group of Minnesota foundations collaborated to invest in Minnesota together, bringing together both those who need capital and those who have it to invest. As the investment manager, RBC GAM identifies Minnesota-based investments that support affordable rental housing, homeownership for low-to-moderate income families, and small businesses in low to moderate income census tracts.

RBC GAM also serves as a convener for a group of foundations to share information and for those in need of investment dollars to highlight the opportunities.

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?

It has changed in recent decades. The change has been driven by a combination of factors. There is strong research demonstrating that diverse teams perform better. There is recognition that women bring different strengths to a team. And increasingly, institutional investors are demanding more diversity from asset managers the way shareholders are demanding more diversity on corporate boards. However, we have still not reached parity and this should still be the goal.

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?

Investors should continue to be vocal about diversity. Researchers need to continue to develop fact-based studies to support those who want to drive change. Companies need to acknowledge that women represent 75% of purchasing decisions, 51% of the population, and 60% of the wealth in the nation.

You are a “finance insider.” If you had to advise your adult child about 3–5 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?

1. Give to charity. Charitable giving reminds us of the value of what we have and of the importance of what others need.

2. Balance your checkbook. The check and balance discipline keeps you focused.

3. Think about the power of every dollar you spend and what it means for the environment, for society, or for the people you want to help. For example, you may want to buy from companies that help others by giving away a pair of socks or shoes or eyeglasses when you make a purchase. You may care about sustainable packaging and its effect on the environment. You may want to buy from local farmers to support the local economy and to lower the fuel usage associated with getting your food to you. Every purchase has an impact. Owning the power of your dollars empowers you.

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 believe that in every long career, one must be able to recreate oneself. At such a moment in time, we need to be able to reach out to friends and colleagues for help. A friend of mine introduced me to the CIO of NYC Pension Plan, and I worked with the CIO for 4 years. That launched me on a path to responsible investing and a career that gives me more satisfaction than any job I have done before. I am grateful for the hand that was extended to me practice helping others on a daily basis. I encourage everybody who reads this to do the same.

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

The key to happiness is the right footwear. You need to ground yourself appropriately for all types of weather and all types of occasions.

Imagine getting caught in the rain, and having soggy wet leather shoes during a key Finals presentation.

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. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement, it would be to get women to use their purchasing power to support other women, whether it be a woman-owned business, a company with strong female representation on their board or in their c-suite, or a company with leading edge-practices to promote women within their ranks.

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.

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