‘It’s not just about welcoming change, but becoming it’
By Tony Sanchez
In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Amy Baptiste, Head of Specialist Finance at LDN Finance.
Amy is the head of specialist finance at LDN Finance (LDN). A hard working and dedicated individual, Amy has risen through the ranks.
She began with the firm as a senior paraplanner, progressing to admin manager and Amy is now head of specialist finance. Her position sees her manage the day to day running of the department, ensuring the efficiency and smooth running of the team and their complex enquiries.
Outside of work she has two children, is an active gym goer and animal lover, and can often be found down the paddocks on a Sunday afternoon following a horse-ride with her daughter.
What brought you into financial services?
Like many others, I fell into financial services.
I originally worked for a large estate agency as an ARLA qualified Property Manager and after having my daughter, returned from maternity leave in 2015 to a position which had opened up on the mortgage team as a junior mortgage administrator.
I fancied a change and a new challenge. I was offered the position and the rest as they say is history!
What do you think makes a successful leader? And in particular women leaders?
I am fortunate enough to work alongside many great leaders, both female and male.
For me, I truly believe leadership is not about a position or title, it’s an action and example. It’s being able to be recognise that victories are a team effort.
That’s why I’ve always taken great pride in nurturing my teams as a manager to help them recognise their own strengths and weaknesses – perhaps that’s my maternal instinct coming out!
What are the biggest barriers you have faced in your career in financial services?
Property finance – especially specialist finance – is still a heavily male dominated sector.
Sometimes, getting your foot in the door can be the biggest! Having worked in this industry since I was 18, overall approbation and acceptance has been a barrier that I’ve faced in my time.
At times in my career, I have felt as though I have had to work harder to prove why I was deserving of my position when a male equivalent may not have needed to.
Having said that, I do maintain the industry is changing now and I am very lucky to have a great support system around me at LDN who value me for my ability.
If you could tell your younger self one thing you know about business now, what would it be?
I would tell my younger self that there is room for everyone; support each other because learning from others is part of the beauty of business.
Never doubt your own ability because the harder you work for something, the greater it feels when you achieve it!
What’s your own personal mantra?
When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond. That’s where your power is.
What do you think is key for finding a successful work-life balance?
As a full-time working mother of two, I know how hard it is to strike a good work-life balance.
I am lucky to work for a firm that supports, encourages and recognises the importance of this balance by offering a mix of hybrid working and knowing how important school runs, sports days and dinner times are.
Whilst at work, I believe in working effectively to ensure deadlines are met and your work gets done.
Spending your day efficiently not only sees work completed, but offers a real sense of achievement at the end of the day.
In my own time outside of work, where possible I try to switch off. I appreciate we work in an industry where work rarely stops, but taking time to switch off my mind either with family, friends or hobbies, is something which I swear by.
Having these breaks certainly makes me more effective at work!
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?
It sounds simple but talking to people is invaluable.
Ask people around you how they are and focus on creating rapport that isn’t just centred around work, delegation and the 9-5.
I may not be able to offer a solution, but I can certainly listen!
What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?
Have a clear idea of what you want and where you want to be. Set yourself a plan and work hard to learn and develop.
Then, you need to show up, again and again and again – consistency is key! Most importantly, never forget how wildly capable you are.
What do you think is holding women back?
Largely, I think a lot of women feel they are their own worst enemies.
A lack of confidence can result in us cowering away from a challenge rather than tackling it head on.
That being said, I feel that confidence grows with age and experience.
When I look back to who I was 10 years ago, I perceive things differently now, and have more confidence to back myself in a new experience drawing upon what I’ve already faced.
Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?
This is an interesting question. I still think there are glass ceilings in some traditional, antiquated sectors but more often than not this is more of a personal issue rather than a wide-spread assumption.
But, I do feel that now more than ever this attitude is changing. Certainly, within LDN Finance I do not believe we have one.
Most of our management team are strong female leaders who have been encouraged and supported into these roles by our male counterparts.
If anything, we’re being encouraged to grab the bull by the horns and thrive!
What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter?
The Women in Finance Charter is a great initiative! It’s something that I’m proud to be part of through LDN’s commitment as a signatory.
Leading from the front there are outstanding, experienced females who are overseeing this positive shift in the financial landscape. It’s brilliant to be part of something where everyone is aligned on their need for change.
When I see the measurables we have committed to as a business, I’m glad to see us achieving these goals but appreciate that outside of our business the wider financial services industry as a whole has a long way to go to eradicate gender bias.
How do we encourage more women into financial services?
Keep leading from the front and remain inclusive, fair and welcoming to all.
Whilst I can only speak about myself in property finance, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else!
When I was at school we were only ever told about accountants and bankers under the ‘finance’ umbrella, but there’s a whole world of opportunity within finance that women should not shy away from.
Albert Einstein once said “the measure of intelligence is the ability to change”.
Financial services has come a long way from being a once very male dominated industry. Don’t get me wrong, it still feels male heavy sometimes, but the dynamics are changing.
More women are in senior leadership positions now than 5 years ago; they’re inspiring the next generation.
It’s not just about welcoming change, but becoming it.
The gender pay gap is only second worst to the construction industry. What can organisations do to address this?
I think it’s time to start having these difficult conversations.
It is time for firms to start reviewing their own pay structures, to ensure equality and fairness.
Knowledge is power and acceptance is key. Women need to have the safe space to be able to ask the hard questions and have the right to fair pay.
This archaic attitude of less pay due to their gender is completely absurd!
What is your biggest achievement to date?
Being listed on the B&C Power List in 2021 was a momentous moment for me.
I had not long returned to work form maternity leave after having my son, and to get back into work was something I was somewhat anxious about.
To be recognised amongst so many other great peers in this industry was truly humbling.
Nothing beats being in the office; surrounding myself with some of the best people in the industry, bouncing ideas off each other and thoroughly enjoying one another’s company.
I look around at the team I am lucky enough to head up, and feel all my achievements to date – all my hard work – has paid off and I am where I am supposed to be.