‘There is a huge variety of roles across financial services to consider’

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Liz Barley Castle Trust

In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Liz Barley, Head of Property Operations at Castle Trust Bank.

What brought you into financial services?

With no plan when leaving school, my first job out of school was an entry level job at one the top 5 High Street Banks.

At that time the banks had an incredibly structured approach to your career with a move to a new role every 6 months, so it gave me a real good grounding.

After four years a local firm were setting up a third-party mortgage administration company and were specifically looking for bank trained staff.

I felt it was a good time for a change.

What do you think makes a successful leader? And in particular women leaders?

You need to understand yourself, be able to communicate and motivate yourself and your team.

Having clear expectations of your team, giving them constructive feedback, and focusing on their strengths.

This will enable you to help them become the best version of themselves and you achieve what you want to be.

For me managing and embracing change has been a key part of my career working for innovative and agile companies.

It can be tough at times, but it gives you the opportunity to look back and see where you have come from and the impact you have had on those around you and celebrate their successes.

What are the biggest barriers you have faced in your career in financial services?

Two things really stick out for me. Being told as a newly engaged 21-year-old, that my annual review grade would be a C, as I would be gone within 2 years to start my family.

When applying for a staff mortgage with my bank worker husband, we were told my income could not be considered as a wife, who was also staff.

This inspired me to consider if this was really the place for me and I moved onto the mortgage administration company.

If you could tell your younger self one thing you know about business now, what would it be? 

Don’t take it all so seriously.

What’s your own personal mantra?

Work hard, be the best I can, for myself and my team.

What do you think is key for finding a successful work-life balance?

I am not sure I can say I have completely resolved this one, but having activities outside of work to switch off and enjoy and make sure you get your holiday dates booked in.

What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?

People don’t turn up to do a bad job.

What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?

Do the best job you can and make it clear what you want to achieve, your goals and ambitions, and make sure a development plan is in place, and followed through.

What do you think is holding women back?

I think there are potentially many factors which impact women at work and everyone should take the time to consider what they want to achieve and the support they need.

But you need to own it and make sure it happens.

Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?

I have been lucky not to experience this since I moved on from my first role.

What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter? 

My main exposure to this has been through Castle Trust Bank, who signed up in December 2019.

Since I joined in 2014 the make up of the NED’s and Exco members has changed and we currently have 2 women on Exco.

We have a designated Exco member responsible for engaging with the workforce on gender diversity and inclusion and updates are posted on our internal intranet.

These actions show the impact the Charter can have on a business, that is prepared to question and challenge itself.

By making changes this improves how your staff feel about their opportunities, how new hires see your firm and all lead to a better overall customer experience.

How do we encourage more women into financial services? 

There is a huge variety of roles across financial services to consider, which will give you many skills and opportunities to achieve your goals and ambitions.

The first role might not be the right fit, so see what else is available to you

The gender pay gap is only second worst to the construction industry. What can organisations do to address this?

From this statistic I would say I have been lucky where I have worked.

However, every organisation should regularly take the time to consider how their pay and rewards are structured and ensure they are implementing best practices.