Investment banking is the pressure cooker of the financial services industry. Billions are at stake. On trading desks, massive losses and gains can be made within a split second. For the corporate dealmakers, long hours – often past midnight – can be the norm, especially if clients are in different time zones. There is a lot of stress, competition and demands. It is also super lucrative.
But investment and corporate banking typically has fewer women than in other parts of financial services. Many step back from it at the peak of their careers, realising that they can't do this after a sleepless night with a cranky baby. Some start retreating as they start planning their families. Others decide to choose a career over family.
Investec's Head of People and Organisation, Lesley-Anne Gatter, said it's understandable why women might have felt that the investment and corporate banking space was not accommodative but so much has changed. The context and complexity of these areas meant there was an "always on" mentality expected of employees, coupled with high pressure to execute deals.