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Barbara Rupf Bee : «The argument about the lack of women at Lehman Brothers does not hold up !»

According to Barbara Rupf Bee, ranked among the top 50 most powerful women in the hedge fund industry, the crisis would not have been avoided had there been a different ratio of women to men..."

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Head of Global Institutional Sales at HSBC Global Asset Management in London and ranked as one of the Top 50 most powerful women in the hedge fund industry, Barbara Rupf Bee explains her views about the role of women in finance.

What led you to entering the world of finance ?

In actual fact, I did not have a career plan. It evolved naturally over a period of time - both the development of my professional interest and employment opportunities offered to me."

I thoroughly enjoy this ever-changing environment, the diversity of the people who are part of the dynamic nature of this sector.

I believe in an equally systematic approach to knowledge, experience and competence no matter what the job entails
Barbara Rupf Bee

A study by Hedge Fund Research indicates that women have performed much better in hedge funds management than men this year. What is your opinion on this?

This study proves nothing; it merely states that a certain number of managers have achieved very good performance. In general, I do not think that women are better than men; the real answer lies in the individual and not in gender. Obviously big differences exist in the way that men and women, as individuals work, but once again I do not attribute this to gender; it has more to do with experience, knowledge and individual expertise.

Is finance built around an operation or a masculine model ?

What is a masculine model ? To love cars ? So, does one have to be a man to love cars ?

The argument about the lack of women at Lehman Brothers does not hold up
Barbara Rupf Bee

It is a tendency to want to dominate one’s neighbour, especially if it is a women

I have not experienced that. Thinking about it, I have met more "alpha" females than "alpha" males in the professional context. There may be fewer women leaders as far as numbers are concerned, but all are equally determined given the opportunity. As far as I am concerned, I base my beliefs on the fact that each person - man or woman - is equal as far as opportunity is concerned.

Would the the financial crisis have happened with more women- dominated boardrooms ?

The financial crisis would not have been avoided with a different male to female ratio; this crisis was precipitated by insufficient supervision and caution and I do not think that things would have been different with more women in the boardroom. Besides, to return to the idea of "Lehman Sisters" you must understand that there is a large number of women working in the financial sector in the United States : so the argument about the lack of women in Lehman Brothers is invalid. Having said that, if one questions the implication of emotional intelligence in risk assessment, then the conclusions could be different. But the impact of emotional intelligence in risk management, has yet to be proven

The impact of emotional intelligence in risk management, has yet to be proven
Barbara Rupf Bee

You have held posts in all four corners of the world. Are there any notable differences ?

If one considers the US financial industry, we find many women leaders. more so than in the United Kingdom or in European countries where opportunities have not really increased. Having said that, there are exceptions to the rule, such as in the Nordic countries where there is a high ratio of women managers. The same proportion can be seen in Asia (with the exception of Japan) and in Latin america where women simply have more responsibilities... I think that the tendencies are linked to geographic factors, with certain roles specifically assigned to women in certain countries. In Europe women do not have the same opportunities because of cultural or social factors. It all depends upon origin and history, but in my case, there is really no difference between a man and a woman. The most important thing is to have the best person suited to the particular job in question. This has been my parents belief, it’s mine and it is why I have never felt disadvantaged being a woman. Along the same lines, I believe in an equally systematic approach to knowledge, experience and competence regardless of what the job entails. One does not have to be only a man or a woman in order to perform. It’s who you are as an individual and all that you bring to the job which is important.

Johann Harscoët , March 2010

Article also available in : English EN | français FR

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