With more than 20 years of experience in Risk Management and Consumer Lending Business Management, Maggie Ng co-founded FinEX Asia in 2017, the first global fintech wealth management platform that uses AI risk model and blockchain technology to help qualified investors optimise fixed income/monthly dividend return.
Have you had any major career changes that led you to your current role at FinEx?
I’ve had two and they’re both equally nerve-racking and invigorating.
The first one happened when I was at Citibank. At that time, I was an all-rounded risk expert with an in-depth understanding of the bank’s business, operation and portfolio characteristics. However, I felt that something’s missing. I wanted to be behind the steering wheel but being a risk expert did not allow that. Therefore, I moved on to manage the Credit Card and Unsecured Lending business; and with a healthy mix of creativity, vision and determination, my team and I grew the Credit Card business to among the market’s top 3 and propelled the Unsecured Lending business to be Hong Kong’s market leader.
Unlike the first one, my second career change was not just for me, but for my family as well. The internet of things disrupted traditional businesses and the behavioural shift of millennials urged businesses to come up with new approaches, all playing a part in moving the definition of success away from the age-old formula of going to top schools and getting to that corner office. As a mother of three, I’ve found it important to stay relevant to the new norms to keep up with my kids while also setting an example for them. Our kids grew up comfortably in a typical dual-income household, but that’s just one of many possibilities. I want to encourage them to try no matter what they want to be and the best way to do that is to lead by example.
What advice would you give to women who are keen to start their own Fintech/business?
My advice would be to find a good partner. It is challenging to run a new business and there will be many ups and downs, so what makes or breaks the business is not how smart you are but how resilient you are. Therefore, having a partner to weather through the ups and downs and bounce ideas off would be invaluable.
How are you leveraging digital innovations to help achieve a better diversity?
At FinEX Asia our purpose is to provide everyone the equal chance and accessibility to good quality fixed income assets. Leveraged on technology to minimise infrastructure and operation costs, we are able to lower our investment threshold to USD 10,000. There have been many challenges along the way, but knowing that what we’re doing will benefit the majority, it keeps us going.
What do you think are the benefits of having diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
Diversity is not just limited to gender but also covers things like sexual preference, age and race. Companies that embrace diversity have happier and more productive employees, and are likely to attract more talent. On the flip side, if you’re limiting yourself to focus on promoting the male workforce, you are turning yourself away from 50% of the total workforce and will surely miss out on good talent.
What is the main thing you've seen in any organisation that you think works, from a diversity point of view, or that enables women to progress?
First of all, start with a caring attitude. Every employee’s situation is unique, regardless of their gender, race or age. If you care for them, you will slowly develop caring employees as well.
In terms of helping women progress, I’ve found flexible working hours to be quite effective and easy to implement. In many families, women tend to be the caregivers, which often lead to a conflict of schedules. I once had a very competent risk manager hand in her resignation because she wanted more time to care for her newborn, instead we offered her the flexibility to work half day every day and she agreed to stay. As it turned out, she worked even more hours than before and completed all tasks with great quality. Eventually, she went on and became my successor.
What are some of the obstacles you foresee for future generations of women and is there anything we can do about them?
As we enter a tech-driven era, one potential obstacle for women would be being excluded from this very male-dominated industry. In order to prevent that, we should start with education. Some ways to achieve that would be to encourage girls and spike their interest in technology at an early age, and to build tech courses tailored to girls.
For those who are already in the workforce, upskilling to keep up with the latest technology development is critical. The advantage for women here is that we aren’t generally expected to be experts in the field, which entitles us to ask more questions.
What do you think of women leading the way in Technology and Digital Transformation?
I think women can easily head up Technology or Digital Transformation in any business, it’s no different than leading a traditional business. The head of the organisation generally doesn’t need to be an expert in the field but a strong leader who inspires and drives the team towards a set of common goals. Women are natural people managers and would do a good job cultivating strong teamwork in an organisation.
When it comes to tech and digital transformation, a lot of focus is put on enhancing customer experience. Women have the slight advantage that they are generally more sensitive to how the process and product make them “feel”, an instinct that can help shape world-class customer experience.
What would you say is the most difficult part of implementing a diversity program?
While it is generally accepted that diversity and women equality is good for a company, not everyone in the company will be on board at the same level. Like instilling any change programs, the key to instilling a coherent diversity program is patience and empathy. Personalising the employee experience while being consistent and fair to all will encourage more adoption, also remember to have a mindset to try new things and be prepared to learn from failures.