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Innovation in finance : opportunities for women


Alain Castonguay

4 January 2018 07:00

Photo : iStock

The renovation ongoing digital offers many opportunities to financial services and women. During the symposium on «Women in finance» of the Cercle finance du Québec, a panel looked at the correlation between the two.

Very many small companies (startups) innovating and scanning processes, systems and financial products. Women are numerous in the schools of engineering, but in computer, we can see that very few of them create business,» Nicole St-Hilaire, member of the Cercle finance du Québec. It is one of the instigators of the symposium held in Quebec city this fall and attended by over 300 people.

The forum on the digital revolution was led by Caroline St-Jacques, vice-president at Manulife Québec. She noted that the investments in innovation in the financial services sector, will considerably exceed those made in the manufacturing sector. In general, a-t-we heard at the conference, less than 20% of the jobs in the sector of information technologies and communications are held by women.

Design and use

The rector of the Université Laval Sophie D’amours, note that only 11 % of enrolments in computer science at the University Laval are made by women. This data does not change, despite years of promoting these careers to the students. To stimulate the integration of new technologies in all sectors, it suggests that you analyse the issues arising from the digitisation of the exchanges.

«Failing to take the leadership of technological development, women have to manage its use and what is done with it,» she said. You can’t ask only to engineers and computer scientists to find the answers. «

Too many women seem to suffer the «syndrome of the impostor» when they have to make a decision that involves an issue of technology. «Women should have the ambition to participate in the decision-making in the field of technology, as the digital age transforms all the organizations,» she said.

Ms. Love added that, even within boards of directors, the expertise in the field of technology and digitization is not widespread. «We would never of the expertise of an accountant in a board. The organizations which are deprived to have this digital expertise to take very large risks, » she said. The changes will come from the younger generations, because children learn from the mother the importance of knowing how to code even before they read or write, underlines the president.

Journey similar in finance

From his side, Marie-France Ouimet, chief, data strategy at National Bank of Canada, said to follow the same path that has made it in the first place by the Cirque du Soleil. «You have to realize that science and technology are everywhere around us, and this since always. «

She was able to reconcile his expertise more rational, more scientific, in a field of business more creative, she says. She has participated in the creation of the computer systems used by the commissioners in various shows to success presented by Cirque in Las Vegas.

To the National Bank, she believes that her work is the same, as it tries to implement the technology in the organization to facilitate the development of products, improve the customer experience, instead of serving only to render more effective the computer systems of the company.

Sylvie Paquette is pronounced

According to Sylvie Paquette, actuary, corporate director and former CEO of Desjardins general insurance Group, if the financial institutions are investing for more than 20 years in technology, » the transition to digital is not made. It has put in place elements to make it happen. «

For it to work, innovation must be thought of according to the needs of the client, and not of the institution. «It’s been some time that our businesses care about the customer experience,» she adds. The projects have been carried out by the internal resources, as we love to do in large companies, with systems designed to last. The effervescence of new technologies in the field of financial services is a good thing, » she said.

According to the president, Sophie d’amours, digital technology and data must be placed at the service of society and of citizens in the goal of improving public services. «It is not up to it professionals to decide on the use of the data, without consulting all the citizens. This element alone calls for a great diversity in the industry. «

Even on Facebook, the influence of gender is significant. The day before, Ms. D’amours read a study analyzing about 10 million interactions made by 52 000 users of Facebook, to understand what they say men and women in their community. Without surprise, the two universes are completely separate, both in the concerns expressed in that vocabulary. «However, all of these exchanges leave traces «, she adds. The algorithm is accordingly modified to facilitate the relations between the users and the sponsors, for example.

Power of influence

Sylvie Paquette gives the example of her sister, 49-year-old who can barely use his iPhone. «I said to him : «You still have 40 years to live !» Life changes so fast and technology is at the heart of this, » she says.

«If you don’t manage to use these tools in your daily life, what is your power of influence in society ? I don’t know, » she said. Even not being a scientist or an it specialist, women need to show more openness and curiosity towards the technology, she insists.

According to Marie-France Ouimet, it is important to be aware of the fact that science is a universe that we touch all the time, in all areas. The mathematics are the entry way to this development, with which everyone can participate. She reminds us that in the field of education, women occupy a predominant place in schools and can thus participate in the integration of technology in learning.

Sophie D’amours note that the digitisation modifies all steps of the manufacture of the objects. We can customize the production of a hip prosthesis, thanks to the 3D printer. It is already being done in Quebec in 2017, she said. This is only one aspect in the provision of health services. There are computer research behind this innovation, but also business development. «CRIQ, we manage to produce great stuff with robots much smaller than before,» she said.

«The robots are everywhere-it is revolutionizing our lives.»

In India, we use canadian technology to teach mathematics to children. Thanks to the artificial intelligence, the algorithm detects the gaps of the child and adjusts his teaching methods to help understand the formulas and theories. All economic sectors will be affected by this progress, including education and health care. «The robots are everywhere. It is already revolutionizing our lives. It’s happening now, » adds Ms. D’amours.


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