Loando Podcast #3- Women’s perspective in finance

Loando Podcast #3- Women’s perspective in finance

The guest of the next episode of Loando Podcast was Katarzyna Stefańska - LOANDO Group CFO. She spoke about the development of the fintech industry, the daily responsibilities of the financial director and the place of women in the world of money. The interviewer was Paweł Łeszczyński.

How long have you been in the financial industry?

Since childhood. When I was little, I was having fun selling tickets at the airport. I worked at the checkout … (laughs) And to be frank, it’s all my life, since I graduated, or for more than several years.

Where did you study?

I studied at the Warsaw School of Economics.

Tell us, what do you do exactly at LOANDO Group? Because the CFO abbreviation may be mysterious for some people.

CFO means that I am the financial director at Loando, i.e. I deal with: money, profit, tax, value for owners and all the details connected with it.

I won’t be lying if I say that you are keeping the Group’s finances under control?

Yes, in view of such dynamic activity you really have to do a lot to keep it in check, but generally yes, I control the risk, I make sure that the budgets are implemented, so I’m a little policeman. So, yeah, you can say I keep it all under control.

How long have you been at Loando?

I’ve been at LOANDO for a very brief period of time – only seven months.

Intensive 7 months?


Okay, maybe now let’s get to a topic related to the role of women in the financial industry. Some time ago I read the report “Experts in Fintech”. It shows that technology companies managed by women reach a 35% higher return on investment and 12% higher revenues than those managed by men. What do you think, why do these companies or firms achieve so good results?

I have the impression that in today’s world people require more of women. Statistics show that women have less investment than men when it comes to capital funds. They also occupy fewer positions on the companies’ boards than the opposite sex. In general, statistics indicate that women earn less. Therefore, proving their value is associated with greater efforts in the professional area. The data you quoted indicates that they succeed…

So, paradoxically, obstacles mobilise women and allow them to achieve success, right?

Yes… Taking advantage of opportunities that come along in their professional way is synonymous with mobilisation…

In that case, do you think that fintech solutions can increase the share of women in the financial industry?

Definitely yes … All modern fintech solutions positively influence different social groups. However, it is very important how well we use the opportunities that these activities give us.

One solution from this sector is for example the introduction of financial assistants, such as Mia from Australian UBank. It has its Polish counterpart – Pani Ala [EN: Mrs Ala]. What do you think about giving these assistants a feminine look? The assistant is a complementary function, but how do you think it correlates with the role of women in the financial sector?

It seems to me that it would be better if these images were various. The Siri in my iPhone speaks with a male voice, so it seems to me that it would be a better option… It would help to show that diversity has a positive impact on our everyday life.

I agree with you. And which barriers, in your opinion, are the greatest when it comes to increasing the diversity of employment structure in the financial sector?

It seems to me that this is exactly the same barrier that causes virtual financial assistants to take feminine looks … I think that this barrier is ourselves and what’s in our heads … I think that people who are younger than me, already in schools learn that diversity is good, that it is conducive to both the workplace and creativity as well as atmosphere … However, my generation, a little older, has not learned it and probably many people born in the year I was born don’t even realise that such a barrier even exists…

Let’s turn to topics related to financial activities. LOANDO Group is growing … We are planning to expand on other foreign markets. What professional challenges does it pose for you?

This puts a lot of very big challenges ahead of us … First of all, we must create such a professional capital group that will give us international reach and allow us to expand internationally on foreign markets. The structure should also correspond as much as possible to the needs of our organisation … We are a very dynamic company, so our capital structure, companies and the countries in which they are located, what solutions we use, should be adapted to rapid decision-making and continuous development. There is another big challenge ahead of us, namely the introduction of internal controlling – financial control, which will be combined with a compliance function that is new to our organisation. We have to connect it and subject the entire organisation to just such controlling.

Ok, and this feature you mentioned will be associated with some staff extensions, transfers?

I cannot answer the question if it will be so, but we will try to use as many fintech solutions as possible…

And what, according to you, determines your success in finance? Are these perhaps soft skills, leadership skills or just substantive knowledge and continuous improvement of qualifications?

I think that communication skills are definitely the most important in finance… If we talk about taxes, risks or profits, then we need to be able to explain it. Financial knowledge is necessary then…

Would you introduce a distinction when it comes to women and men? Should these skills be acquired by both ladies and gents?

By everyone… (laughs)