Most of us have cognitive biases and sometimes irrational thinking. We all, women and men alike, make errors in our judgement. As a kid, I felt any financial or other loss more intensely than the happiness I’d experience from a success or a win. For that reason, I am less likely to invest in stocks as I do not see that as attractive — I see it as a risk. So, I think we really need to understand ourselves and what makes us tick or why we make certain decisions. It is important to understand that when we make an error in judgment, there is value in the experience and the lesson there. It can help us make better decisions in the future abut investing, spending or saving.
As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Natacha Rousseau, Founder of Diplomatiq.io (www.diplomatiq.io) a strategic communications and investor relations firm based out of Los Angeles with offices in Asia and London. Natacha Rouosseau has 18 + years in the fintech and communications sector and works with companies and startups on integrated communications, strategies and investor relations campaigns. Natacha specializes in emerging technology, including blockchain, wearables, token economics, VR and digital media.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?
Yes, of course. I started working in Public Relations on Madison Avenue in New York City where I got my feet wet working with banking, finance and wall street clients. I genuinely loved it. I obtained my Master’s in Economics, so the real world use cases of banking and wall street, complimented my academic training.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occured to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
Ah. Well, Both an amusing and interesting thing about my journey is that although I come from a traditional banking, finance and economics background, I started working in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology in 2016, and so that traditional experience quickly morphed in finance technology in the blockchain industry. I feel like I grew both my professional and personal experience by leaps and bounds when I started working with fintech companies launching ICOs (equivalent of IPOs, but for blockchain and tokenized projects). It was both interesting and amusing as I did not know the first thing about blockchain technology or token economics when I found myself collaborating on high-visibility projects. I learned very quickly!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, I am working on a very interesting project that comprises sustainability, climate change and traceability The whole notion is to give back to our community. Giving back to the hand that feeds us, if you will.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think we stand out as we are entrepreneurial and value community spirit. We are part of a community and we very much operate with the ‘ we are all in this together’ philosophy. Another way we stand out is that although we are woman-owned and run, we work with men and certainly leverage other women and minority business owners. Finally, the fact that we specialize in finance and deep technology is also a way that we stand out from the crowd.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. 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?
Precisely that. Women and men with an entrepreneurial backbone or from a certain generation started to realize that the “ all white boys club’ was outdated. That club was not pushing out any ideas, not producing anything transcendent really — and quickly we realized that they did not had the new generation in mind when it came to changing, transforming or solving deep-rooted issues. Put simply, people grew tired and frustrated with the lack of change and unwillingness to adapt, grow or evolve in their decision making or policy making rational. Also, I think the “Me Too” movement was instrumental in creating a voice then a movement for women to communicate and join in sharing their voices independently and as a community — which grew louder and bolder in a very short time. Many women found their voices and their power at the height of “Me Too’. It was empowering for us and catalyst for the wider community of men and women in various industries. It really touched every single industry from entertainment, media, finance, and technology. I have noticed that most men are now much more open to listening and that men of my generation digress to women more openly.
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?
Schools, universities, colleges, training centers need to do more to educate women in the tech and hard science sectors. They need to make these sectors sexier by taking out the complexities and judgement around them. Secondly, these is still so much bias for women that other men do not see or that is not reported. As women, we are immediately judged and looked over. Is she pretty enough, tall or short enough? Is she too pretty, is she too social; does she work as long hours as her male counterpart — does she have the stamina. From wall street to Hedge Funds to the Tech firms of Silicon Valley, we are all aware of that. What can be done? Well, is it too much to ask to not objectify women? Is it even possible? That would be a start, I think and it is slowly happening in the startup and entrepreneurial arenas — but how long will it take to reach Wall Street? I’m not sure. I think we’re seeing the beginning of the shift, so it is happening. I do think that women should be promoted and paid equally — and that is easy and quick fix or step that corporations can take immediately.
Let’s now turn to a slightly new topic. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers? If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?
Banks, financial institutions, school loan suppliers need to be transparent about everything. If you cannot calculate basic loan terms, that is your responsibility ( we need to educate ourselves better too), but it is also that of the institution’s. So transparency and education. What about a PR or Marketing campaign targeted at people taking out loans? Here should also be an educational campaign focused on financial literacy and education geared towards women, minorties, high school or college drop-outs. If you are going to opt out of college or high school, the kids need to have the resources to learn how to balance their books or learn how to select a loan ( to buy a car, at the very least). Women and minorities really need to be educated I repaying their debt. This is where researchers, policy makers and teachers need to find ways to speak with under-represented people.
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.
The foundation of personal finance — how to budget, how important it is to avoid and manage debt, how important it is to have a diverse investment portfolio — these are all the foundational things. We are not born understanding the value of a job, the value of a retirement plan or the benefits of having a health insurance plan. Young people ( Millenials and Gen-Zers) need to be more literate about personal finance too. What I would say is
1. Your ability to earn money is your biggest financial asset. You have to be able to capitalize on yourself to contribute good or greater good to your community.
2. Most of us have cognitive biases and sometimes irrational thinking. We all, women and men alike, make errors in our judgement. As a kid, I felt any financial or other loss more intensely than the happiness I’d experience from a success or a win. For that reason, I am less likely to invest in stocks as I do not see that as attractive — I see it as a risk. So, I think we really need to understand ourselves and what makes us tick or why we make certain decisions. It is important to understand that when we make an error in judgment, there is value in the experience and the lesson there. It can help us make better decisions in the future abut investing, spending or saving.
3. Start saving from an early age.
4. Understand premise of risk management ( it is okay to take risks. Don’t despair when you lose, but learn from the experience lesson)
5. Understand your personal and financial liabilities ( ie: responsibilities. Look forwards to being an accountable / responsible adult by paying bills on time, repaying debt — including friends’ and family’s)
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?
My mom is my hero and helped me all along the way. So did my step dad. I also have mentors — they know who they are — who helped me feel confident, who lifted my spirits up (gave me jobs, recommended me, talked to me, listened to me; and later –partnered with me).
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“We are all in this together”. I may be independent, strong, poised,smart and capable, but I need my friends, family, colleagues, partners, associates to bounce around ideas or to leverage as resources. Say I win a big project — well, the team I will select will likely be based on my network or my network’s recommendations.
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. 🙂
Move with grace, sensitivity, internal love and generosity — always.
Thank you for all of these great insights!