Some studies suggest women make better risk managers.
There is no question central banks have a lack of women among their senior roles. But one of the areas within which women appear to have bucked this trend is reserve management.
For example, the governor of the National Bank of Poland’s deputy governor, Anna Trzecińska, used to head up the central bank’s Bank Guarantee Fund.
Former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz used to manage the central bank’s reserve department. And the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas’ president Esther George previously managed the bank’s risk management function.
The trend does not stop at senior level. A large number of central banks have a high number of women working in their reserve management departments. One argument for the better gender balance is that women tend to be more risk averse when it comes to making financial decisions.
But Vaithegi Naidu, senior portfolio manager at the Central Bank of the Seychelles, disagrees. “Women are not necessarily risk averse. I actually take a lot of risk in my job, but I am very conscious of the risks I am taking,” she says.
Where women set themselves apart instead, and what makes them a valuable asset for reserve management, is the way in which they approach problems, Naidu explains.
“Usually a man focuses on the action. When there is a problem, men tend to look for an immediate solution. Women are different, we look at the entire picture and try and find links between factors before looking for a more long-term, sustainable solution,” she says.
Naidu joined the central bank in 2010 and has slowly risen through the ranks to manage a small team within the reserve management department.
Since joining, she has helped refocus the central bank’s investment strategy to what she claims to be less risk averse. “One of my main challenges was trying to get the board to understand risk is not necessarily a bad thing,” she says.
00:00 – Introduction
01:59 – Why do women enter reserve management?
06:10 – Fostering departmental talent
09:00 – Stepping out of the bubble
12:15 – An international issue
To hear the full interview, listen in the player above, or download. CB On Air is also available via iTunes or podcast apps.