Pall-Ex’s Hilary Devey recalls that when she first approached banks for funding she was rejected outright: ‘I tried the banks and was met with misogynist bank managers who couldn’t get their heads round the concept at all.’
Susanna Simpson, MD of Limelight PR, also encountered resistance in the beginning: ‘All the banks thought my income and forecasts were unrealistic. They said I was sure I was going to do well, but they wouldn’t lend me anything. Initially, I only wanted £10,000. They were so risk averse to what I was proposing it was untrue.’
The smart money
For Angela Maxwell, commercial director of Fracino, it’s an area to be addressed: ‘The enlightened banks and financial institutions will attract women. I think a lot of issues for women arise from the client-facing employees at many of these organisations. Their employees have to mirror their client base.’
While the banks may have been reluctant in the beginning, both Devey and Simpson see the irony of there being no such problem today as their respective businesses flourish. It suggests that the banks’ initial reticence may have been more to do with an attitude to risk than gender.