Katja Lammert studied law and worked for the German fund company BayernInvest in Munich for 17 years. Most recently, she was a member of the board of management and chief syndicate there. She dealt with all kind of legal issues related to funds and asset management and was also responsible for risk management, compliance, taxes, operations and IT. After her job at BayernInvest, she was for a short time a partner with an independent asset manager before starting her own practice-oriented legal advice in October 2019. There she is advising domestic and foreign asset managers, capital management companies and investors. She particularly enjoys advising FinTech companies (“they have to meet the same regulatory requirements as the established companies, but have completely different, often unusual ideas and perspectives”). Fondsfrau Anke Dembowski talks to her about what women want in the fund industry and how they work differently than their male colleagues.
Katja, you were on the board of a capital management company for many years. As a woman, are there any special aspects that you noticed?
I see that women are more concerned with the subject matter and less with the political aspects … men pay much more attention to that.
Men often ask us at Fondsfrauen: “What do women actually want? In our company, women and men are completely equal! ” So, what is it that women want to make their career feel good?
We women want to be accepted as a voice and as a brain. We just want to be taken seriously. In this context, the topic of quotas is very sensitive.
In your opinion, there shouldn’t be a quota for women? Should it?
The quota is a very dichotomic issue. At first glance, highly qualified women are often “stamped” as quota women and are only perceived in their specialist competence in the second step. But the quota may be necessary as a transition, so that companies think about how to get more women on their boards. When role models are developed to reconcile work and family, they should of course also apply to men, if they want to work reduced times but still want to pursue a career. This also helps to get more women in management positions.
Not long ago, you looked around at various companies in the financial sector, when you were looking for a new position. You said that you can easily see right from the website of a company, how they deal with women. What should one be looking for? And can you give positive and negative examples?
In principle, you only need to look at the photos of the board. Are women and men of different ages represented to bring in different aspects and perspectives? Is it diverse in terms of age, origin, education of the board members, just to name also other aspects of diversity in addition to gender? I remember the appearance of a Bavarian company in the construction sector as not diverse at all; its board was made up exclusively of men of the same age. A British pharmaceutical company caught my eye in a positive way. If you look at the management team there, that is diversity in its purest form! For me, diversity in the upper management levels stands for an open corporate culture, for diversity of thoughts and opinions.
As a highly qualified woman, you finally became self-employed. Did you find this decision difficult? What was the trigger for your decision?
For me it was a process. When I decided to go from Bayern-Invest – a subsidiary of a large corporation – to an owner-managed independent asset manager, I hoped that the decision-making processes would be more direct and faster, more about content than about politics.
Before I started there, I had the opportunity to take some time out and used this for a trip around the world. There I had the opportunity to experience different cultures and get to know people in a wide variety of life styles and professions and, above all, I had the time to think about important basic ideas – apart from a regular professional life: What do I like to do? What am I doing particularly well? What does the market need?
When the activity in the small wealth management company did not turn out to be the one I expected, the decision came very quickly: I set about building up my own business.
What were the pros and cons for your decision to start your own business?
On the pro side you can definitely see that I am now my own master. I am not pressed into a scheme and, as a self-employed person, I do not have to act politically: I am measured by what I actually do. Also, I now enjoy my free timing. I can decide which contracts I accept and which I don’t – it feels good!
Probably, it does not come without any disadvantages. What are the cons of self-employment?
Of course, the predictability of income is associated with more uncertainties. In addition, at least in the beginning, working in a team, interacting with colleagues and leading managers, being a mentor, is missing. I would like to live this aspect through my work as a member of the Supervisory Board. In addition to regulatory competencies (supervision) you also need “mentor skills” (council) there, and this is what I would like to contribute to this role.
What is your USP and how do you stand out from your male colleagues?
My USP is that I am very close to the business – the issues that I encounter in legal advice are often those that I implemented and was responsible for in my previous role. In addition, I am very well connected in the relevant market, which helps enormously in consulting practice.
And what sets me apart from my male colleagues? Well, I’m wearing the nicer shoes!
Definitely! Thank you for the interview, Katja!
Lammert legal consulting