Sygnus’ Elizabeth James on the equity embrace
Sygnus currently stands as one of the Caribbean and Latin America’s leading alternative investment companies. Playing a key role in the firm’s rapid expansion in the Caribbean is Elizabeth James, vice-president and head of wealth and client strategy. Passionate about cultivating a financial future, James, in her capacity, manages the maximisation of client engagement by assessing, understanding and identifying clients’ investment and wealth management needs. Providing an array of wealth advice, James is committed to expanding the horizon of financial possibilities. James sat down with Flair to give us her take on women in business.
How do you think your industry has promoted the concept of equity? Is there room for improvement?
The word ‘equity’ has many different meanings in the world of finance. It can mean shares or stocks in a company, total shareholder value or investing in private equity firms. Specific to alternative investing, we speak about private equity, which is one of the main areas in the industry, which is a capital investment made into private companies that are not listed on a public exchange. Each of these definitions are relatable to being part of something, I think the journey has started for women. However, we have only began to scratch the surface. How many women are investing in equity? How many of our women are utilising private equity as a way of investing and building their wealth? How many of our women are in the position within the financial sector to educate our society that these are game-changer options to build inter-generational wealth for their families?
Over the years, in what ways have you experienced a ‘level playing field’ in your industry?
I have been somewhat fortunate to have worked in institutions where a deliberate effort was made to promote equity and the inclusion of women. Here at Sygnus, this has been clearly evident. The executive team is represented by 45 per cent of women and 55 per cent of men, which includes the founders of Sygnus. More than half of the entire team is made up of women, and that’s 60 per cent. This indicates a significant change, especially in the alternative space in the last couple years, with much more inclusion and diversity in leadership and the industry. 60 per cent tells me that women are being given fair opportunities and are being included based on merit.
Have you faced any challenges of gender equity within your field or the Jamaican society as a whole?
I think it’s safe to say every woman has experienced this at some point in their career. Especially for women in business, a field that is traditionally known to be male-dominated, we women have to work twice as hard to receive recognition and success. Though I do acknowledge that to a great extent this has been changing within the modern industry especially, I stand firm on the fact that we must be empowered to highlight gender equity challenges and continue to educate the society on embracing equity.
What message would you like to be received by any young woman looking on at your career journey?
My advice would be to follow your passion and educate yourself to be qualified to pursue your passion. Life is a journey and so is your career, so ensure you maximise on each
opportunity, because these opportunities are what determine your success. Also, be yourauthentic self because a big part of embracing equity is embracing diversity.