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Inspiring Business Women: Jacqueline Planner

​Jacqueline is an accomplished Managing Director, displaying a solid track record of success gained in Financial Services, Banking (wholesale and retail), Insurance, Advisory Consulting, Technology and the Energy sectors for over 25 years.

Experienced in leading large global teams across multiple blue-chip organisations for Financial Crime, Global leadership, Operations, building Global Strategy, Risk, Bribery and Corruption, Payments, Culture, Sustainability Risk, Partnership Risk, Governance and Control Frameworks. She has successfully designed and implemented global strategies, leading teams of 1200+ and managed budgets of over £9 million. She has worked at HSBC, Boston Consulting Group, Barclays Capital and PwC as well as running her own Ltd Company.

Jacqueline has operated across global regulators throughout Europe, the Middle East, North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. She has Implemented technical expertise around robotics and the interdisciplinary between humans and machines. Built smarter regulatory intelligence to support reduced costs and streamline processes across various Companies and advised at Board level.

A member of Women on Boards UK and the Association of Certified Anti Money Laundering Specialists. Mentor for Diversity & Inclusion. She has lived in Australia and the USA.

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Could you tell us a bit about your career progression to date?

I never really wanted to go into Banking having set my sights on a career in the police force, but I didn't meet the height requirements! In desperation, my mother put an advert for the bank in front of me and I applied. The next week, I was interviewed and the week after that, I was offered the job. I've worked for some amazing companies throughout my career, always trying to match my personal values and ethics when choosing who to work for. My career has been a great learning curve and I genuinely believe it’s important to learn something from each role, by increasing your self-awareness, having a greater lens across the industry and companies ready for your next challenge or role. I've been fortunate to have worked all over the world; I've had the vision on where a department or company can go, built global strategies and executed those strategies. Seeing the execution come alive across a large operational team is rewarding. However, I had spent a lot of my career at one company, so I made a conscious move from Banking into Forensic Advisory Consulting. To be headhunted into that role from an ex-colleague was a great privilege and it helped my career progression in a way I'd never envisaged.

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What propelled you to move into that sector over the many options in Banking and Financial Services?

I'd hit a brick wall and times like that can force you to be more creative and to use your skills differently. I'd climbed the ladder quickly in Banking, from a junior to middle management then to the senior level. An opportunity came up in Financial Crime when my boss in the compliance world inspired me to consider a career in a different space and to work differently, for which I'm forever grateful to him. I've now worked in the Governance/Risk/Compliance area for 15 years and I've thoroughly enjoyed the variety that the frequent changes in regulation bring. I'm someone who likes to keep learning and keep challenging myself, so it's great to be in such a fast-paced environment where you need to be good in a crisis and be prepared to dive into the detail when needed.

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Would you say that Compliance has a more prominent role in organisations today compared to when you started?

Absolutely it’s the glue that holds the Company together. The depth and breadth that you need to execute proper oversight and to run teams within this space is huge and still growing. You can be working on something to do with fraud one day, governance the next and getting to grips with a new regulation while you are at it. There’s no sign of it slowing down.

Come the 1st of January, the UK will be part of the global community and has to act with that broader regulatory environment. How we wish to act to other countries and them with us is still to be agreed as it’s not clear what the landscape will look like at present. How we interpret and implement those effectively to a deadline ensuring that the control and governance are in place will keep this a very challenging job for a long time to come. However, a hugely rewarding one, when you get it right that is!

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What have been your biggest challenges in terms of your career and were any due to gender?

Gender remains a significant challenge. Financial Services has been a very male orientated sector for a long time, and it is slow to adapt. Companies set targets, but they don't always go the extra mile to embrace what diversity and inclusion really mean beyond gender. Inclusion needs to be at its broadest sense. My first real encounter was at the age of 22 as a junior manager when I was told by a male colleague that as a woman, I would never make it to a senior level. I wasn’t going to accept that, and it made me even more determined. Within a year, I was at the same level as him, and by the time I was 25, I was at a more senior level. I was also told I had to think like a man to get on as it would be the only way I would be recognised! It was hard work; however, it was important to believe in because nobody else owns my career. Today, we see many more women standing up to challenge the status quo and beating it because they are talented, which is just great.

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So, do you believe there's still a glass ceiling for women in the workplace or has it changed?

I don't think there's a glass ceiling for women as such, but there are still certain barriers that need breaking through that can be challenging. From a D&I point of view, glass ceilings are not just about gender, but diversity as a whole, from race, religion, to age to disability and our own unique experiences. It is changing in some countries and companies, but it’s inconsistent and slow. We need to be brave and bold, just do it and live it.

I really like the way Ajay Banga at Mastercard (Currently CEO and soon to be Executive Chair from 1st January) positions this topic, it’s refreshing, all-inclusive and inspirational - the best I have seen. He quotes: "Decency Quotient is the way of telling employees to treat their co-workers and community the way they’d want to be treated. A level playing field and a chance to win."

Lots of us are starting only with gender rather than being brave enough to tackle all diversity and inclusion in one go, and I think we’ve been slow in the UK to adopt a more forthright approach.

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How do you feel the Financial Services industry compares to others regarding diversity and has it changed?

The FCA produced an article in November last year looking at how the larger firms could be more diverse and, while there has been growth since 2005, it still isn't where it needs to be. We should not be looking to tick boxes or hit simplistic numerical targets, but make it part of what we all do and how we do it, business-as-usual if you like. When companies put targets in place, what happens when these are met? Do we just stop? Did they understand what they did to hit them? Will they meet them next year? While it's great to see a change like Citibank appointing a female CEO, not every company is raising their own awareness or driving change at the pace we need them to. I would like to see more boards challenged by their non-executive directors on how D&I plays a part in developing and promoting from within as well as recruiting externally. It can be shown that increased diversity improves performance and increases shareholder trust and value which is a win/win.

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What are some of the key traits or beliefs that have helped you in getting to where you are?

The biggest thing for me is to start with the end goal in mind. I like to know where I am heading and be prepared to adapt to change or adjust that goal to meet the change. I am a firm believer in learning from my mistakes too; mistakes can be a great source of creating best practice. I’ve always had belief in myself, encouraged by a great former manager, and when you believe in yourself, the day job is a lot easier and people around you will believe in you too. I regularly push myself out of my comfort zone to network as often as I can, listening to and learning from others has always been important to me and my personal development and I am always willing to share my own experiences. You never know when an opportunity might arise, so I recommend joining global networks and professional bodies and start collaborating. Lastly, it’s really important to enjoy what you do. If I am not enjoying it, l never perform at the level I am capable of.

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What advice would you give to women looking to progress their careers in Banking?

Go for it! Jump on the journey! However, find out where the business strategy is heading and likely to take you. Try to stay ahead of where the game is and get the relevant experiences and qualifications to take advantage of it. For example, sustainability is an increasingly important topic at the moment, with changes that affect us all and new regulation coming next March. I would say that there aren’t many people sufficiently qualified to take the mantle or are able to adjust their CVs to be ready for what it really means or what industries need in order to meet the inevitable challenges. Many industries are not ready for the change or investing enough. There will be some great opportunities for people to be able to make a real difference to all our lives.

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How do you think diversity and inclusion has been affected by COVID-19?

We adapted pretty quickly as a sector but that's probably due to the size of Financial Services. We were able to accommodate working from home and people have enjoyed the work/life balance and no commuting, keeping fit and exercising more. On the downside, there is bound to be an impact on inclusion with everyone working remotely people will feel isolated or excluded. Also, young families that have had children being home-schooled, noise and disruption can make it hard to focus, though I do think employers have become more accommodating of the background noise on Zoom calls. We really do need to improve things like our nationwide broadband infrastructure to accommodate what is the new norm for many. I heard a great comment the other day saying that we will only go into the office now when we need to become creative or we need to collaborate. This may seem funny at first, however, it’s a clear indicator to me that we need to be more effective about how we use technology, such as collaborative tools and processes, or innovation will simply wither.

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Do you have any further advice for those just taking their first steps in their FS careers?

I would say embrace this industry; as it offers a lot. It's an industry that can help you build your skills and credibility very well. Learn in each role and then see where you want to go from there. Seek out mentors too, more than one, male and female, from inside and outside of your organisation if you can, to get a range of impartial advice. Get yourself qualified and really understand your role back to front, embracing the changes as they appear and most of all have a voice and an opinion. If you understand something inside out, it can be a springboard to consulting, for example. Careers are going to change as tech advances, so it’s important to have more than one string to your bow so that you don’t become a casualty of that, your options will be as wide as your vision and willingness to try new things.

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Lastly, who’s your inspiration or role model in terms of D&I?

It’s actually two people – Ajay Banga as above is so influential and visionary within the corporate world I really enjoy his energy and simplicity on what others see as complicated; he is truly in a league of his own.

From a non-business perspective, I am a fan of Michelle Obama. I read her book and was inspired by how she has supported so many different initiatives to help her country with its inclusion problems. She has forced people to have difficult conversations, empowered women all over the world which is the first step to a better society.

Posted 4 months ago
About the author:
Daniel Bloom

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