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Series Fifteen, Episode One: Special Youth Takeover Episode: Perception, Pathways and Progress within financial services


We kick start Series 15 with a special Youth takeover episode. Host Julia Streets is joined by Chloe, Sirad, Megan and Harrison all of whom work as Young Consultants with the organisation Participation People. They share their perceptions of financial services and what we need to do as an industry to attract and portray financial services in an attractive light. They also highlight the value and importance of representation and inclusion as we market our products and services and the group talks about career opportunities and the barriers young people from different backgrounds believe they may face.  It’s a really insightful discussion and they offer lots of ideas to inspire the industry, one of which is a clear call for financial education.  Finally, the young people turn the tables and ask Julia some questions!

Join Megan, Chloe, Sarid and Harrison on the DiverCity Podcast takeover


Pronouns: She/her // Age - 15 // Passion: Solving problems whilst making people smile // Favourite memory of working with Participation People: The vibes of the ACM group and actually being part of something impactful // Superpower: Reading minds // Listening to: Emotions - TLC // Favourite brand: Air Jordan


Pronouns: She/her // Age: 16. // Passion: Educating everyone on children in care and fighting against stereotypes children in care face // Favourite memory of working with Participation People: My favourite memory of working with participation people is going to Greenwich Councillors meeting and going to Nando’s with everyone in the children in care council and George and Kim // Superpower: My dream superpower is to be flash or to be able to fly // Listening to: Chase Atlantic // Favourite brand: Ted Baker for their perfumes, they smell lovely


Pronouns: She/her // Age: 14 // Passion: Representing the views and interests of young people and giving them a voice! // Favourite memory of working with Participation People: My first day of joining the Youth Council and Participation People // Superpower: Invisibility // Listening to: Quran // Favourite brand: Google!


Pronouns: He/him // Age: 15 // Passion: Films // Favourite memory of working with Participation People: Don’t know because there are so many! // Superpower: Time travel // Listening to: Ranjithame // Favourite brand: Sony

Series Fifteen, Episode One Transcript

Julia: Hello, my name is Julia Streets and welcome to DiverCity Podcast, talking about equity, inclusion and diversity in financial services. On the podcast, we seek to shine a light on positive progress, call out areas requiring further focus, and offer lots of ideas to help drive change. Before we get started today, I just wanted to take a moment to thank our friends at CityAM. They’ve given DiverCity Podcast a new home at Impact AM, their page is dedicated to ESG, impact investment, DE&I and so much more. We really appreciate that they publish and promote both our episodes and our supporting blog series so that their readers can stay right on top of the very latest diversity, equity and inclusion debate. So thank you to CityAM.

I’m so excited about this episode because we are having a special youth takeover episode, and I’m joined by four young consultants who work with an organisation called Participation People. Let me just tell you a bit about Participation People.

Participation People’s Young Consultants are a group of young people from across the UK with the different experiences of healthcare, social care, police and youth justice, children services, voluntary sector, education, asylum seeking services, poor physical and/or mental health, disability, rural living and so much more. Their aim is to help professionals listen to, value and work with young people to improve services together. They are experts by experience when it comes to youth participation, and help Participation People to facilitate training for professionals. It’s all about youth-proofing our offer and to remind adults that in everything that we do, we must keep young people at the centre of what we are building and what we are creating. I am so excited to introduce you to four of our guests, and I’m going to ask them each questions in turn. Then later in this show we have a bit of a surprise moment where the tables are going to turn and they’re going to ask me some questions.

I’m joined today by four guests. Chloe is 16 and is passionate about educating everyone about children in care and fighting against stereotypes that children in care face. She says if she had a superpower, it would be to be able to fly. Joining Chloe is Megan. Megan is 15 and she is passionate about solving problems whilst making people smile. She says that if she had a superpower, it would be to have the power to read minds. Sirad is 14. She has a passion to represent the views and the interests of young people, and all about giving them a voice. Her desired superpower would be the power of invisibility. And last but not least, is Harrison. Harrison’s 15 and he’s passionate about films. He would love to have a superpower that would enable him to time travel.

I can’t wait to meet you all because I love the little insights we have there in terms of what makes you tick or what you really, really care about. And also I love this question about superpower. I ask people all the time in business, “What’s your superpower?” and I get some really dull answers a lot of the time. So I was loving your answers there about invisibility, reading minds, time travel and the ability to fly. So welcome to the show one, welcome to the show all, and I’m really excited about this, because today we’re going to look at financial services from the perspective of young people. I’m really curious that when they think about banking and financial services, I want to know what are your initial thoughts, and what’s your understanding of the industry? Harrison, can I come to you first?

Harrison: I knew the basics of applying for mortgages when buying a house, so interest, loans and credit scores, not in detail, just things I’ve heard. I feel like that’s partly due to not enough education around the financial sector, and how to manage finances when you grow older and leave school. It’s not enough, it really isn’t. I feel like if you want to learn more about banking and finance, there’s not enough being put in place to make sure that you understand what’s going on behind the scenes.

Julia: It is really true, isn’t it? We tend to talk a lot about financial services or people when they get into the workplace, and when they get into earning a salary or as they go through their careers. But you raise a really important point about do we educate enough people when they’re younger? And yet you hear this language that goes around all the time, so it’s really fascinating to hear your thoughts on that. Megan, I’d love to hear your thoughts. When we talk about banking and financial services, what’s your understanding of the industry?

Megan: When I think about banking and finance, I think of Wolf of Wall Street and how it’s very male-dominated and not very racially diverse. However, I also think about the internet, as internet banking is quite prominent.

Julia: Harrison, let me come back to you. When you look at the industry, when you think about financial services, is there anything that particularly appeals to you?

Harrison: Not looking at it from an economic point of view, but instead of the maths that goes on in the financial sector and how you have to crunch numbers really fast and quickly so you don’t fall behind with everything that’s going on in the financial sector.

Julia: Is there anything that particularly puts you off?

Harrison: There’s a huge stereotype in the financial sector that it’s a very serious business, and I feel like that does put me off a little bit, but I feel like it won’t put me off entirely that I’m not looking to go and try it out.

Julia: Can I ask you another question, which is when you think about possibly coming to try it out, where do you think you’d begin to start looking?

Harrison: I don’t know because I don’t know the roles or what happens in the financial sector because again, lack of education. If it does have numbers and if it does have maths involved in it, I’d probably be there straight away.

Julia: Well, I can confirm there’s a lot of maths in The City, but not entirely because there are lots of jobs that aren’t necessarily just all about number crunching there. So there’s marketing communications, there’s also making sure that banks and financial services are remaining compliant with the regulation. There are also sales jobs and all sorts of other things as well. And at the very heart, is about how do we produce products and services? You were talking about a few there in terms of mortgages, loans and other products. How do we make sure that they are right for consumers? And at the heart of that, very much lies the mathematical piece. There’s also a fascinating dynamic in The City about how do you apply your maths into algorithms as well. So anybody doing advanced maths, there’s a really interesting engineering pathway to be taken, and you would have a stellar career in The City, which is really interesting.

Harrison, I think you make a really interesting point though, which is I think our education needs to go further into schools and academic environments, and also into communities, about what are the pathways into the industry. Megan, what about you? What in the industry particularly appeals?

Megan: I think apart from the apparent big paychecks, I think they’re talking to different people and dealing with different situations appeal to me, as banking can be for big businesses but for also small businesses and for families too.

Julia: What do you think we need to do better if we are to appeal to you and to your friends?

Megan: I feel like for my friends and I, if finance in the media was portrayed as something more approachable, because when I think about going to pay taxes, putting money in and all of that, it seems a bit scary and intimidating. So if it was a bit more chilled out and more approachable, it would definitely be better.

when I think about where I find information that I trust, I always tend to go to actual bank branches then to go online, or if i was to go online I would got to a well known bank or well known solicitors or lawyers to find information like that, I wouldn’t go to a random dodgy website or something like that, I’d go to a trusted source as fake news is everywhere. 

Julia: Chloe, can I come to you because I’m really curious. When you look at the financial services industry and you think about career success, what do you dream of? And then I’m really curious to hear what barriers you think might exist as well?

Chloe: I’m going to be honest here. So personally for me, I don’t dream of being part of the financial service because I struggled a lot with maths and just hated every maths lesson. And I just feel like for me, if I was part of that, it just wouldn’t be my dream. It’s just would there be a place for me in that service, or would I enjoy working there?

Julia: It’s very interesting hearing your thoughts there about being so aligned with maths. It feels like it’s very aligned in your minds about the association between financial services and maths, when actually there are other opportunities as well. I’d love to get your thoughts about whether you might be curious in other roles as well.

Chloe: I just think it also goes back to the point that Harrison was making about there not being enough education around it in school, because I feel like every time someone says something financial, everyone’s just thinking about percentages, office works and in the office and then taxes, and lots of hard work, and you have to be really smart and you have to know your maths. If there was more opportunities and other roles, then maybe I would take a part in it, but it’s just the fact that I literally know nothing about it.

Julia: It’s important for us to hear that by the way. And everybody who’s listening and everybody who’s tuning in, listen to what Chloe and Harrison are telling us, which is we need to get out of the industry, out of our offices, and get into the community, and explain to people that actually there are phenomenal roles. I mean, my business is entirely virtual, we’ve never had an office. I’ve had the joy of travelling the world, as well as having different roles in marketing and sales. And actually, I can honestly tell you that I failed my maths A Level twice. So don’t be put off by that, don’t be put off by that. Sirad, can I come to you as well? I would love to ask you a question about when you look at the industry, and to what extent have you looked at the industry, and whether or not you feel represented?

Sirad: I think for me personally, I do agree with that. Yes, I do feel represented but only to a certain extent. I think one thing that the financial industry could do better on is when it comes to adverts, I think when banks usually advertise their services or use leaflets and stuff, I think one thing, the people that they use to advertise their services are mainly white, and I think that it’s mainly white people that they put efforts across. I think one thing that they could do better on is as the BAME community, to actually go into their leaflets and go into their flyers. Because I think one problem is the BAME community always use their services, they’re always there. I think one thing that they could do better on is just really implementing their photos and actually adding them into the flyers and the advertisement.

Julia: Really important. It’s about inclusion and representation, which is really important. Chloe, I have a feeling you’re very keen to come in here, so please love to hear your thoughts.

Chloe: Someone like me who absolutely hates maths and struggles with it, you said there were other opportunities, could you maybe give some examples of what other opportunities there are that I could maybe get involved in?

Julia: Yes, certainly, well that’s one of my favourite topics, actually. So right the way across the industry there are different types of jobs. Think about banking and financial services is partly about what we call retail, which is when you walk into or don’t walk into a branch or you do your online banking. How many of you have an ATM card, hole in the wall card or do your banking or pay for your bills through apps on your phones, for example? That’s one aspect of the business and that’s helping consumers, people like you and me, basically to manage their money. Part of that’s about creating the technology to do that, the apps if you like. But part of it’s also about education, getting out into the community and talking to people about how you, in financial services, can help them. There’s another area which is when you’re helping businesses.

So when you walk down the high street or when you’re doing any kind of commerce and business online, often through applications, there are people behind this technology, behind these businesses, that are trying to create jobs for people by providing goods and services to people like you and me. So actually, how do you help those businesses to grow? So whilst at the heart of it may well be technology and platforms and the maths piece of it if you like, there’s also a huge amount about customer relations and getting out into the community and talking to the community about how you can help them to grow their businesses. Then when these businesses get bigger and bigger and bigger, some of them are doing business on an international scale. They might be doing international and cross-border.

They might be doing business in Europe or out into America or into Asia or Latin America. They’re huge international trade opportunities. At the heart of that, will possibly sit the technology that will enable you to do that, but a huge part of that is again, getting out and meeting customers and really understanding what it is that customers need, as well as all of the jobs that go around it. Making sure, I was saying before, that you remain compliant with the regulation because we have a duty of care to people’s money. When people handle your money, we have to remain compliant with regulation that tells us what we can and cannot do with your money. So you are protected. But also about understanding, I mean Sirad, you were talking about the adverts and all of the publicity that goes around, that’s all in marketing and advertising and in communications.

So there are huge jobs there. People who are very creative or very good writers and who also really enjoy the visual side of that in terms of creating content, great opportunities in there, in the world of marketing. And then in other areas, there’s the technology and the engineering. But if you are really good with people and you are really sociable, there’s a great opportunity to build a career in customer relations, as I was just describing. But also if you are a quieter type of person and you are a lot more introverted and you may not necessarily feel that you’ve got the confidence to go out and do that, there are phenomenal jobs around managing a lot of the processes that go on behind the scenes as well.

So there are incredible behind the scenes jobs, these are what I see as the unsung heroes that happen that when something happens, like a trade happens or a transaction happens or somebody is taking care of a consumer’s money, then actually that gets passed back to people who are basically looking after the processing around that as well. So maths isn’t necessarily essential for all of that, but I’ve deliberately given some job ideas there for different types of people, different types of customers, whether you are an individual, whether you’re a small business or whether you’re an international business organisation, that actually there are huge opportunities that come all the way through that. Believe me, Chloe, I could go on and on and on. There are phenomenal opportunities. So don’t just think about it as you’ve got to be good at maths. There are so many other skills that you could bring, I’m sure.

Chloe: Thank you. It sounds really interesting and it was good to know about the other opportunities that are available.

Julia: Always happy to talk about it, always happy to talk about it. Sirad, can I come back to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. You were really interesting, you were talking about representation in adverts. Is there anything else that you are keen for us to think about as an industry?

Sirad: Honestly, I really don’t think so. Just to deal with advertising and marketing. I just feel just making sure that the BAME community are included because they are a bank’s main service users if that makes sense because they do use their services quite a lot and I think just including them a bit more into the things that they do.

Julia: I’ve got to turn the tables back on you actually, because I’m really curious to learn more about what you will do as Young Consultants. Tell me a bit more about that. And what should we be doing to ensure, from your work and your insights, that we are truly inclusive?

Sirad: One thing that we do is we try and diversify the people that we work with a lot. I think we make sure that the young people that we have come from all different backgrounds. I think that’s something that banks do as well. But I think that’s the one thing that we do a lot.

Julia: What do you do as part of the community? What activities do you get involved in?

Sirad: We represent the views, the interests and the voices of young people quite a lot. I think another thing that we also do is when it comes to inclusivity, I think based on your background you get to do different activities as well.

Julia: It feels to me that when you’re doing your work as Young Consultants is you are really being very mindful of, do you represent everybody actually in your community? And I think that’s a lot that we can learn from you as well, which is it’s very easy to go through pathways but making sure we really pay attention to this.

Sirad: Yes, I agree.

Julia: Chloe, can I ask you the same question as well? I’m really curious to learn more about Young Consultants and what you are doing, and then what can we learn from you?

Chloe: We empower young people and put them at the heart of everything we do. From becoming a Young Consultant, we value everyone’s opinions and we treat everyone equally. And I think that’s a moral that every company should have because it will just fail if you don’t put your clients or people who are using your service at the centre. I suppose it’s just all about everyone just having fun. It’s serious when it needs to be, but it’s also playful and fun, so everyone has a good time.

Julia: I think there’s a lot we can learn from that because I think as an industry we’re probably a bit boring. The more we can appeal to talent like just the four of you and also all of your friends and your communities and everybody you are working with as young consultants as well, is maybe we need to appeal more as a slightly more vibrant industry. Do you think that’s fair? Sirad, would you agree with that?

Sirad: Yes, I definitely agree with that. I think that’s something that would be really good.

Julia: Brilliant. Harrison, I’d love to get your thoughts about what else should we be doing to really appeal as a vibrant industry.

Harrison: I feel like to make it more fun, you could, instead of thinking all the time about how to get more money and how to make more profit, just start thinking about the employees as well and how much time and effort they spend working for your company. I feel like if you just have days where you just dedicate implementing more fun activities for the employees to get to know each other and to network and stuff like that, it could make them have more fun than usual.

Julia: I’m making lots of notes while you’re talking because I’m getting really inspired by all your thoughts that are coming through, which is really helpful. Thank you, Harrison. Thank you for your thoughts on that. I’d love to talk about the fact that Megan, there are five different generations working in finance now and there’s so much that we can all learn from each other. It’s incredibly important. Now I think about your generation, you are so digitally enabled. My generation, I’ve been working in the city for 30+ years and there are different technologies and different ways that we can work together, and how important it is that we all listen to each other. I would be really curious to know what other generations should know about what matters to you. Tell us what really matters to you.

Megan: Other generations should take into consideration other people’s needs and how the world is ever changing because you need to include others in this vastly growing industry so that we can witness some change for the next generation to come. Because at the end of the day, we are the future, so we need to be listened to.

Julia: Harrison, what kind of financial education do you receive? You were talking earlier about the need for more of it. I’m really curious to dig a bit deeper, find out what you do receive at the moment, and what can we do to educate young people about their finances?

Harrison: In school, we’ve received no financial education whatsoever. We might have, but as a school, we’ve probably only done it once or twice a year and so it’s very easy to forget about those sorts of things. I think maybe banks could be coming into schools and helping students decide on their finances post 18, when they start to leave home and make a living for themselves.

Julia: Your point is we should start a lot earlier. Is that your thing?

Harrison: Yes.

Julia: How do you see banks and financial institutions coming into your community and helping people understand and learn?

Harrison: I think presentations during form time, assemblies to educate a whole school so it saves a lot more time than going into individual forms doing PHSE. I also think maybe you could send resources and videos to do at PHSE if you don’t have the people to come into school and if you are busy and whatnot.

Julia: I love the fact that it’s a mix of coming in person and doing some personal engagement as well as using some resources and videos and more contemporary, more modern content as well, which is really interesting because then you can reach more people. Really helpful. Thank you for your thoughts on that, Harrison. Really, really important. I wonder, Chloe, if I could come to you at this point because in financial services, we talk about the value of mentoring. Now what really strikes me is that you as young consultants are already doing that in your community, you are helping other people. You are really listening to other people. If you were creating a network for young employees who had just started their first jobs in the industry, I’m really curious to know what would you focus on? And also, are there any particular technologies or applications or apps that you’d use to keep people really connected?

Chloe: I would personally use platforms like Zoom because they’re easily accessible, it’s through one tap of a link and everyone can join. I also think it’s quite secure as well and I feel like everyone can access it, whether you’re old, young, I feel like you can be taught how to use it quite easily. But I feel like it’s just making sure that you’ve got the tool that everyone can use, everyone has access to because obviously there’s some barriers. Some people might not have WiFi or a Bluetooth laptop, so you’ve got to consider that. Or even things like YouTube, because you said for new people so they usually just search up stuff and see tutorials. Or just simple Zoom meetings with the people who’ve been in the industry for a long time, teaching and mentoring maybe younger generations, because that’s how we mentor, over Zoom.

Julia: You’re doing it over Zoom rather than getting everybody back in a room again. Is that because people like it? And why do people like it so much?

Chloe: I think it goes back to that reason of it being easily accessible. As you said, our world is moving to digital and online and I just think it’s so easy to access. You don’t have to travel, you don’t have to get up really early, or worry about traffic.

Julia: Yes, because the logistics of getting people into physical spaces takes time. It takes time and takes travel and obviously expense as well. Whereas I guess Zoom is just easily accessible for everybody. Really fascinating. And I love the fact that you make the point about making it really easy and accessible for everybody so it is truly inclusive. And also your YouTube videos and tutorials as well have really inspired an idea actually in my mind about how we can possibly do some of that. Sirad, if there’s anything around diversity and inclusion, because that’s the nature of this podcast, we’re talking about how do we make sure that we’re very diverse and inclusive. Are there any areas that you think get left behind? What do you think gets left out that we should really pay attention to?

Sirad: One thing that I really think would be very, very useful for young people nowadays is more job opportunities. Because I think when it comes to people who really study for the financial sector, I think a lot of the time It’s really hard once they graduate, it’s also really hard for them to actually find a job. Especially I think more job opportunities for the Black ethnic and Asian minorities. I think a lot of the time when you look at those directors, the CEOs and the managers, I think in the financial sector I think it’s predominantly white. I think one thing that could be done is empowering and actually inspiring more people from the BAME communities into becoming part of the financial industry and actually having more job opportunities for young graduates from the BAME community because I think that’ll be very useful.

I think it’ll also inspire the younger generation into actually looking into the financial industry as well. Because I feel like now I’m 14, but I think now when I look at the financial sector I’m like, “Yes, I would want to do it,” but then what if I study and I go to university and then I have to deal with the struggle that other people are struggling with and finding it hard to actually try and find a job for being in the bank and working at a bank or actually trying to become a director of the company. Advertising more job opportunities for the Black ethnic and Asian minorities, I feel like that’ll be really useful.

Julia: Really important because this is something that actually I hear a lot of people saying. It’s wonderful hearing you talk about this, which is if you can see it, you can be it. So there you talked about opportunities and inclusion, but looking up and seeing representation as well. Really, really interesting that it matters. It matters so much. Wonderful. Listen Sirad, we’re going to stay with you because I know you’ve got some amazing facts and statistics to accompany this show. So take it away. What should we be paying attention to?

Sirad: There are currently five generations within the workforce, the youngest being generation Z. Generation Z’s form between 2001 to 2020 holds more inclusive views and expectations about the workplace than previous generations. A survey by the BBC found evidence that generation Zs were far more concerned about prejudice towards the LGBTQ+ people and gender equality and racism, than older generations. In a 2021 report, the Washington Post “Generation Zs are seeking proof of employers with education to diversity and inclusion. In the United States, 77% of generations Zs have indicated that company’s diversity affects their decision to work there.”

Julia: Wonderful. Not only do we love statistics, but I think that your choice actually is really fascinating. We have an international audience, I love you went from the BBC to Washington Post. And also the fact that these are really compelling reasons why people must pay attention to what we’re talking about. Because you have choices, if there aren’t job opportunities out there being presented to you, coming back to Chloe and Harrison’s remarks earlier about we don’t have the education, and explain why all this stuff matters. You have choices, you could work anywhere.

The statistics are telling us that your generation really holds very dearly the diversity, equity, inclusion conversation in the choices that you make. But also down onto the level about LGBT, also gender and race as well. Wonderful. Sirad, thank you so much for all those thoughts.

All those facts and figures will be available on the website which you can then refer to along with the transcript of this call and information about the show. So this is where it gets a bit uncomfortable actually, because what we’re going to do now is we’re going to turn the tables. The wonderful Cynthia Akinsanya, when she prepared this show, took me aside and said, “Julia, I don’t know whether you’re aware you don’t get to ask all the questions, you have to answer some of the questions as well.” So I gather you’ve all got some questions for me. Chloe, can I come to you first of all? Ask me anything.

Chloe: My question is what were some challenges that you faced when you were setting up your company?

Julia: Because I’m a founder and a CEO, and it’s interesting because we were talking about different job opportunities that exist in financial services, I came very much from a corporate world where I worked in a big financial institution that had thousands and thousands and thousands of employees. And I decided to stop doing that and then set up my own company from scratch. When I think about the challenges, the first challenge when you’re setting up a company is always, who’s going to be your first client? And the best way to think about that isn’t so much about what is it that I do that is so amazing, it’s much more about what are the challenges that my clients are going to be facing that I can help them solve? Quite often when we think about startup companies, we think about people going, ” I’m going to be an entrepreneur and I’m going to be really rich and really famous and just make loads of money and drive a fast car.”

Unfortunately, if you start a business with that kind of attitude, what you’re not doing is you’re not paying attention to what your customers think about. And one of you made the comment, brilliant comment about you’ve got to have talent, young talent at the heart of every decision you make. You’ve got to have your customers at the heart of every decision you make. I think one of the challenges that I faced was first of all, thinking about not only who’s going to be my first client, and actually that came quite quickly. But then really thinking about what is it that they need, and how can I help them with that? So changing a mindset around that. The other thing is also, we live in very technology enabled times. I think Sirad was saying about these are digital times. And Chloe, I think you made a similar reference. And Harrison, I was really curious about your comments earlier about how we can create models of education.

Technology is a great enabler. So when I set up my company, what I wanted to do was not have an office and loads of people said to me, “Oh you have to have an office, you have to be able to control your people. They’ve got to be able to walk in the front door every morning. You’ve got to leave it every day. You need to clock in and clock out.” And I had this really strong sense that actually we didn’t need an office space. So 15 years ago, I set it up without an office and everybody, well a lot of people told me I was wrong. So one of the challenges for me was to ignore the voices that I thought were wrong and have enough self conviction to go, “This is the pathway I’m going to follow.”

Of course what’s interesting is in the pandemic, is that’s the model that everybody went to. Everybody worked from home. So actually we were ahead of the curve in doing that, but I could have quite easily gone with other people’s advice when actually in my soul, in my gut, I knew what was the right way to go and I stuck with that. So that was quite a challenge actually, was getting rid of those voices and just being really determined to follow that pathway.

Sirad: I was going to ask, what is one piece of advice you would give young people about finance?

Julia: Get educated. I think there’s a very strong message coming out of this podcast recording that it’s on us to go out and educate. But engage with the education, so do be curious and study about it, but think about your education in terms of short term, medium term and long term. Harrison was talking earlier about loans and mortgages. Now that can all come, and pensions, they can all come much further down once you start earning. But actually what you do with your money today really matters, and you are never too young to learn that. Simple equation, which is never pay out more than you’ve got coming in. There are basic principles about managing your finances. So you’ve always got that. But also the importance of saving. Think of yourselves as squirrels. Squirrel. Now that may sound a bit twee, a bit trite, a bit fluffy, but actually squirrel money away. So if you’ve got £10 coming in, take a £1 of that, £2 of that, put it away somewhere.

Because the more you do that, the better position you’ll be in because we don’t know what’s coming around the corner. We don’t know. So actually sometimes you need a bit of money saved away, but it also means that you can invest and later on down the track as you get into the workplace, is you could be using some of that money and investing and that’s where you can get other returns on your money as well. You can help your pot of money to grow. So become a squirrel. Save. Because I do worry that we’re not saving enough actually as individuals. And by the way, it’s not just young people. I know people of my age who don’t save enough money and it’s one of the things I’m a bit obsessive about. Thank you for letting me have more than one.

Sirad: It’s okay. You have really good advice, so thank you.

Julia: Well you’re very kind. You’re very kind. I hope it’s helpful. But these are the things that I think about as well. Harrison, go on. Fire away. Ask me anything.

Harrison: As a CEO, how do you play your part when it comes to diversity and inclusion?

Julia: Really good question. Number one is as a CEO, you have a responsibility. So you have to step up. The conversation about diversity, equity inclusion,It’s not a little pet project on the side. It’s not the sort of thing you do when you just happen to have a bit of spare time. It is a heart and centre of everything you do to grow a business because my business has got a lot of technology running through it, but it’s the people that make it really work. It is a daily decision proactive, mindful, this word came up earlier, mindful decision about where do I find our talent and do we have diverse talent? Because if I have only a team of people who are exactly the same, I’m going to end up with the same kind of results. What I want is I want new ideas, I want fresh ideas, I want to learn from each other’s experiences and backgrounds because that’s where creativity comes from.

Actually, Chloe, you were asking the question about is it all about maths? It’s not. In this industry, it’s so much about creativity. You’ve got to have lots of different ideas at the table. So number one is you have to step up. I think the second thing you have to do is, how do I put this? 

You have to shut up. It’s really easy to keep imagining and talking on behalf of people when actually, I have no lived experience. I know that I’m a white woman of privilege. I’m also a gay white woman of privilege. So I have my own story. Everybody has their own stories, their own experiences. It’s really important that as a leader you actually shut up and you listen. There’s this great bit of advice I was given which is, you have two ears and one mouth, so listen with both ears. And that’s why episodes like these are really important to listen to what you have to say

The third thing you have to do is speak up, which I know sounds, well, I’ve just said shut up, then I have to speak up. But actually when you’ve listened to people, then it’s your job to go and advocate for them. What I mean by that is when you have meetings with people and you look around the table and it’s the same people always talking, you have to create space. You have to stop the meeting and go, “I’m really curious to hear what these other people have to say as well,” and make space for people to be able to speak up as well. Part of it’s about you speak up on behalf of them and to give them the space to speak up themselves. So yes, so step up, shut up and speak up. I think those are the big things as a CEO. That we should all be doing.

Harrison: I think people come from many different experiences and backgrounds and stuff that we all have our different perspective of diversity and inclusion. So I do agree with you on this. I feel like everybody can have the right to have their own opinion on diversity and inclusion because we are at the end of the day, all influenced by our backgrounds.

Julia: That’s what makes us wonderful human beings, that’s what makes us really interesting people.

Harrison: It’d be extremely boring.

Julia: It would be extremely boring. Completely agree with you. I’ve got literally my hands in the air going, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. That’s so true. And we want to be in an interesting industry. But what we’re hearing today is that you’re going, “Well it actually doesn’t feel very interesting. It doesn’t feel very vibrant and it feels like it’s very one dimensional in terms of maths. And by the way, we don’t know what you do.” And we’ve got amazing people in this industry who actually aren’t boring. So I think we need to go out and connect a bit more, is my thoughts. It’s been really, really inspiring. Megan, I’m coming to you next for your question.

Megan: Women now make up 42% of financial services. Do you think in the future AI will have a more prominent place in financial services or will women? And why do you think this is?

Julia: Megan, I think it’s a brilliant question. I think it’s a really, really brilliant question because we know that artificial intelligence is really driving how we make decisions. When we buy products and services online, we get recommendations for what else we might like. Everything is connected. If you liked this, you might like this. And the data that all comes from our shopping habits, etc, that’s all driven, the data that comes out of that is powering artificial intelligence. So do I think that we’ll have more women or more artificial intelligence? I think we’ll have more artificial intelligence because it’s just the future. It’s the future of better products and services. But what I would say is we need to have more women at the table. If all of these products and services are only designed by white men, we are going to end up with artificial intelligence that is designing the wrong future.

It’s really important that we have equity, so we have women and men at the table. But if we only have women and men who are all white, we’re still going to have the wrong types of products and services because we need to have complete ethnic minority representation. In fact, it shouldn’t be a minority, it should be an equal representation at the table. We need to have LGBTQ voices at the table designing artificial intelligence. We need to have people from neuro divergent backgrounds and attributes and superpowers at the table designing our products and services through artificial intelligence. We need to have people with disabilities because it’s about access, and if we can get this right for people with disability, as guests on this show have told us, we get it right for everybody. So it’s so important that we make sure we have representation and equity of representation designing the AI because it’s not going away.

I think there’ll be more and more and more and more AI out there that’s designing and helping us live our lives, but we’ve got to make sure we’ve got complete representation designing it from its heart. That was a great question. Listen, thank you all so much for all your thoughts. I really, appreciate it. And I’ve asked the governor of the Bank of England this question, I’ve asked the head of the regulator this question, I’ve asked all our guests, I’m going to ask you the same question as well. Because I’m a bit worried, if I’m honest, I’m a little bit concerned that as we go through tough economic times, people’s priorities change and they start saying, “Well actually, we love all this diversity and inclusion discussion, but it can’t be as important right now. We’re going to basically drop it down our list of priorities of things to focus on.” I would love to hear your reasons for our listeners about why it’s so important that this remains top of the list? Harrison, I’m coming to you first of all, tell us why this is so important.

Harrison: If we don’t have diversity and inclusion as a priority, then what happens is that people such as myself or Sirad or Chloe, those of the lower classes, we do not get the same opportunities as those of the higher classes. I feel if we don’t get the same opportunities, what happens is we grow up thinking we’ll never go to the same lengths as those that have received more education.

Julia: Wonderful, thank you, Harrison, really appreciate that. Megan, I’d love to hear your thoughts about why it’s so important that we continue in discussing diversity and inclusion.

Megan: Because the world isn’t just made up of one faith or one race, it includes everyone. Some people may feel more comfortable talking to others in their chosen racial group or faith. We need to take that into mind. Also, in my opinion, I’d feel more comfortable talking to someone younger so we already have that connection, we’ve grown up around the same time so we know what we’re going through and what we want. Someone who’s from the LGBTQ may want to talk to someone who supports them and maybe someone older may want to talk to someone older too, so then they understand each other more.

Julia: Sirad, can I come to you next? Tell us why it’s so important that we keep discussing diversity and inclusion.

Sirad: I think when CEOs or directors are in a meeting, I think if it’s just a table of completely white people, yes, the ideas will be great, but at the same time, it won’t be as great as it would be with people that are Black or Asian or from ethnic minorities because I feel like the more diverse it is, the more of a diverse range of ideas there’ll be, if that makes sense. I feel like that’ll be a bit more helpful because that way the work that’s produced will be to a more higher standard and to more of a higher quality.

Julia: Completely agree with that. It is about quality, isn’t it? Equality and quality. So this isn’t just about the right thing to do, it’s about also creating really quality work and products and services for everybody. Wonderful. Thank you, Sirad. I really appreciate your thoughts on that. Finally listening in very patiently, Chloe, come on, tell us. See out the show. Give us your really compelling reasons why it’s so important that we continue to discuss diversity and inclusion.

Chloe: Because if you don’t discuss the important things, then it just shows you as a person and you as a character, it just shows that you are not mature enough to have your own company because you’re not putting your workers or people at heart. By you not doing that, your company is going to fail and just won’t work because people just won’t want to come and use your service because they won’t feel respected and people won’t enjoy working there because it’s just basically showing that you’re just being selfish and you’re not prioritising people’s needs, and it’ll just fail.

Julia: I’m not going to say anything because I think that all of you have just beautifully summed up for me the really compelling reasons why this matters. I just want to take a moment to thank you all so much for spending the time with me. It’s been wonderful hearing your thoughts. It’s been really inspiring, actually. I think we need to pay attention to education. As an industry, we need to be explaining the jobs and the opportunities that exist. Getting out there being a lot more proactive in terms of explaining not only why financial services matters, and also some of the education about helping young talents become very good with finance, but also explaining that it’s not just all about maths. There are some fantastic opportunities. It’s been really fun hearing your questions and your curiosity about, well, this is not about me, but about me being a founder of a business and what that’s been about. But most importantly is hearing your reasons why this matters so much. Thank you all of you. Sirad, thank you so much for being on the show.

Sirad: Thank you very much for having me. It’s honestly been really great. Seriously, I think as a person myself, I’ve learned a lot from this.

Julia: It’s a pleasure, and I wish you every possible success. Harrison, thank you for all your thoughts today and for being with us.

Harrison: Thank you. It’s been good. It’s been really good.

Julia: Well, you are very kind and it’s only been good because of the contributions that you’ve all made and I love all your thoughts and I found it incredibly inspiring, as I was saying. Megan, thank you for being with us today.

Megan: Thank you. I really enjoyed being part of this conversation.

Julia: Chloe, thank you for being on the show.

Chloe: Thank you for having me and allowing me to have this opportunity. And it was amazing and really interesting to know what other pathways there are if you’re not interested or good in maths. So thanks for educating me.

Julia: It’s a pleasure and it feels like an honour. Everybody who’s been listening in, I really hope you’ve enjoyed this discussion as much as I have. Thank you as always for joining us. DiverCity Podcast is a five-star Apple podcast. And so please, we love your ratings and your support. Do share this episode because it’s not about DiverCity Podcast, it’s about the conversation and it’s about profiling our wonderful guests. And I hope you a agree, we’ve had some cracking guests on today. Thank you as always for listening. I’ve been Julia Streets.

Roshan:  This episode of DiverCity Podcast was produced by Rashan Roberts on behalf of Julia Street’s Productions. You can find out more about the guests from this week’s show on our website. That’s, that’s divercity with a C and not an S. Whilst you are there, you can also sign up to our newsletter for all our latest updates. All our episodes are available in Apple Podcast, Spotify, or your favourite podcast app. If you enjoy DiverCity Podcast, remember to share on social media and give us a rating or review. And finally, our Twitter handle is @divercitypod. Thanks for listening.