Marisa Drew, Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN)’s most senior female investment banker in Europe, expects it will take at least five years before women start to gain a greater share of senior positions in the industry.
“It takes about 10 years to see the talent pipeline come through, and we’re probably about four to five years in from the inflection point of when we saw a materially more evenly balanced intake at the junior level in Europe,” Drew, 49, said in an interview at Credit Suisse’s office in London.
Banking trails other industries in the number of board positions held by women, according to data compiled by recruitment firm Egon Zehnder International. Women make up about 19 percent of European bank boards, compared with 33 percent in the household-products industry, which has the highest level of female representation, the data show. Fiona Woolf, a partner of the law firm CMS Cameron McKenna LLP, this week was named to be the 686th Lord Mayor of London, only the second woman chosen to head the financial district’s municipal government in 800 years.
One of the keys to boosting female representation is to retain bankers when they move from processing transactions originated by more senior colleagues to striking their own deals, making more direct contact with clients, Drew said.
Typically, that promotion coincides with women starting a family, and it “can be overwhelming,” said Drew, who has been married for 24 years and has no children. Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-largest lender, doesn’t disclose specific targets for boosting the number of women at its investment bank.
Like most banks, Zurich-based Credit Suisse doesn’t publicly report the number of women employed by division, and instead provides companywide percentages. In 2012, more than a third of the bank’s employees were female, including 16 percent in senior management, filings show. The bank had about 46,300 employees as of June 30.
At Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), continental Europe’s biggest lender, women accounted for about 18 percent of managing directors and directors at the firm at the end of 2012, up from about 15 percent four years earlier, according to its latest annual report. About 22 percent of UBS AG (UBSN)’s directors or more senior employees were female at the end of 2012, according to the annual report of Switzerland’s biggest bank, compared with 21 percent in 2011.
Investment banks lag behind U.K. and European consumer banks in female representation with 10 percent of the boards made up of women, according to a survey published by British recruitment firm Astbury Marsden in September.
“Investment banking still hasn’t evolved materially in terms of the job structure and creating the flexibility that other industries like perhaps tech have, but it’s changing,” Drew said. “We as managers have to be more creative and less rigid and adopting the attitude of: ‘I don’t care where you get it done or how you get it done as long as you get it done by when the client needs it done.’”
Drew works with the Women in Banking & Finance industry association and backed a flexible working initiative at Credit Suisse, which was tested during the London Olympics in 2012. She’s also devised jobs for bankers who deal with clients to allow them to work part time or from home.
Drew, who’s been in investment banking for more than 25 years, was named co-head of European investment-banking department with Ewen Stevenson, 47, in May, replacing Jamie Welch. The firm ranks ninth in providing European merger advice this year and seventh in managing stock sales in Europe, Middle East and Africa, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
She moved to Credit Suisse from Merrill Lynch & Co. to head its European leveraged corporate finance business in 2003. A U.S. citizen, she relocated to London in 1999 where she helped set up Merrill Lynch’s European leveraged finance group, which helps companies raise funds for deals and investments.
She helped finance the first cellular phone network in Medellin, Colombia and cable television systems in Europe as well as technology companies in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This year, Drew helped raise money for London-based Liberty Global Plc’s (LBTYA:US) purchase of Virgin Media Inc., the U.K. pay-TV operator in a $24 billion transaction.
Even though the number of women in senior positions hasn’t changed much in the past decade, she said, behind the numbers attitudes in U.K. have morphed even among women. Drew said that when she first arrived in the U.K., women were hesitant to attend networking meetings.
“I held the first meeting, and no one showed up,” Drew said. “I was really shocked. At that time, there was a big reluctance to be part of something that was female centric as they feared it would hurt their reputation or standing with their male peers.”
Drew said she has focused her attention on schools and universities where she sought to persuade careers advisers a banking job would be just as suitable for women as other professions, in spite of the industry’s demands for long hours.
“There is a lead time to getting people through to become senior bankers,” said Chris Roebuck, visiting professor at Cass Business School in London, likening the situation to the approximate six years needed to become a senior doctor in the U.K.’s National Health Service. “You cannot suddenly produce senior female investment bankers from nowhere.”
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