Toni-Ann Neita Elliott started working with investment house Sterling Asset Management in 2015 as assistant vice president of personal financial planning.
Then, she was tasked with the role of managing and servicing both individual and corporate client accounts as well as growing Sterling Asset’s clientele.
Fast forward seven years and Neita Elliott is the head of the sales and marketing division. As part of her role as vice president, she is in charge of enhancing client relationships and making sure services are provided to the highest standard, which is the Sterling way.
She also helps to expand the amount of assets under management, and develop the brand in accordance with the goals of the company. While waiting to give birth to twins, she recently joined us for a conversation about 2023’s International Women’s Day theme for this year which is ‘embracing equity’.
This year, for International Women’s Day, the theme is ‘Embracing Equity’. Some would describe embracing equity as ensuring fair treatment, access, equality of opportunity, and advancement for everyone while also attempting to identify and remove the barriers that have prevented women.
In this interview, we ask: How do you feel we can embrace this as women in 2023?
Toni-Ann Neita Elliott: In order to embrace equity as women, we need to acknowledge the inequities people face and actively work to redress that imbalance. Equity is only possible if we as women in leadership roles and human resources are committed to identifying and providing the support that each individual within an organization needs to be successful.
What challenges do you face as a woman in finance?
Neita Elliott: I personally haven’t experienced any challenges as a woman in finance. I have been fortunate to work in financial institutions where women are, and sometimes even outnumber men, in leadership positions. However, I am aware that not every woman has been as fortunate, as many still encounter challenges ranging from subtle bias to long-held gender perceptions, discrimination, child-rearing issues, etc. A challenge that I will soon experience firsthand, which is not unique to being in finance, is trying to balance my career with raising a family. Recognizing how starting a family may impact you in both the short and long term is vital to ensuring that your career continues to follow the trajectory you want.
What advice would you give to young women looking to pursue a career in finance?
Neita Elliott: The finance industry is a vital, fast-paced and continually evolving area. There are many different areas and aspects of finance. Ensure that you do research and pick the area of finance that best suits your personality and strengths. Also, get advice from other women in finance, particularly in the area of finance that you are interested in.
What strategies do you think should be implemented to ensure that women are represented?
Neita Elliott: Interestingly, I am more concerned about men being underrepresented than women. I am finding that in many financial institutions, the number of women in management positions outnumbers men (at least in Jamaica). When we have done interviews to grow our team, sadly I found that the female candidates are far superior to the male candidates. However, a strategy that can be implemented to ensure that women continue to be represented, is having mentorship programmes in schools and also in the workplace.
What do you think are the three most important qualities for a successful woman leader?
Neita Elliott: The three most important qualities of any successful leader (male or female) in my opinion are 1. A belief in oneself, 2. A willingness to nurture your team members and not be threatened by their success, 3. Finding opportunities for improvement- successful leaders should continue to seek input from others. They should have enough emotional intelligence and self-awareness to recognize that there are things they could be doing better and tirelessly work to improve as a leader.