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Patricia Quek: Women Are Critical In Pivoting Old And New Economies

Managing director at UBS Wealth Management Patricia Quek on her conscious efforts to ensure gender balance at the workplace.

Patricia Quek: Women Are Critical In Pivoting Old And New Economies

Patricia Quek, the managing director and sector head (Singapore & Malaysia) at UBS Wealth Management, sums up her take on success with a quote by author Mark Twain: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

She’s spent more than 25 years advising UHNW individuals, global family offices and both private and public-listed companies on wealth management, investment banking and asset management. Now she wants to reach out to women in Singapore and encourage them to actively engage in financial decisions that will help them feel more confident about the future.

In a world trying to contain Covid-19, how can women ensure their financial confidence for the future? 

According to a recent Own Your Worth report by UBS Global Wealth Management, many women steer day-to-day finances but defer long-term financial planning and investment decisions to their spouses. But it is pivotal for women to take charge of longer-term financial goals — women can expect to outlive their partners and they will, at some point, end up widowed or divorced. As it is, a good two-thirds of women are less wealthy than men so we must manage our savings to last well into our later years.

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“More women leaders will be in demand as our society increasingly emphasises the versatility of our workforce, multiple layers of next-gens, and the adoption of technology and sustainability,” says Patricia Quek.

Covid-19, the way I see it, is like a reset button for the world. It triggered a sense of urgency in people to take stock of their lives, relationships and finances, given the sense of vulnerability we experienced. And with our multifaceted roles, women have a lot more to cope with. So while 2020 showed how women overcame adversity and challenges, I’m confident that in 2021, women can take small steps towards financial confidence.

How has this knowledge enabled UBS to better reach out to women in Singapore?

According to our research, seven in 10 Singapore women list retirement planning, long-term care and insurance as top concerns. That’s not all; those who participate in long-term financial decisions feel more confident about their future, and spousal relationships improve when women are more engaged in these decisions. And women in Singapore are in a unique position since many households have dual income and we have our own disposable income to invest.

We found that women want to be served with a different dialogue that places greater focus on their aspirations as opposed to pure investment outcomes. Women do not just want to boost the bottom line, but to also contribute to and develop the communities we live in by investing in education, healthcare and our planet. This desire to effect positive change is aligned with the broader trend of growing interest in sustainable investing.

Women are represented in leadership roles in UBS. Is this something you purposefully cultivate?

I am proud that UBS has a strong company culture of meritocracy, where we foster growth and development opportunities for talents with diverse backgrounds. We have a strong bench of senior Asian management with women in leadership roles, many of whom I have had the privilege to work with.

But this is not by chance; we make a conscious effort to groom the next generation of leaders through a deliberate process to foster and nurture younger talent. Without stereotyping, managing men and women require different strokes. It is not just about gender but also generational differences.

Women play many pivotal roles in their families. And being a daughter, daughter-in-law, wife and mother — my son is 19 and daughter, 17 — I’m in a good position to understand and empathise with the challenges my female colleagues face. I’m mindful to be versatile, dynamic, focused and transparent.

What changes do you think 2021 will bring in terms of gender diversity at the workplace?

This is the Year of Celebrating SG Women, which accentuates our focus on women. More women leaders will be in demand as our society increasingly emphasises the versatility of our workforce, multiple layers of next-gens, and the adoption of technology and sustainability. And women’s strong affinity with these issues makes it easier for us to embrace and weave them into our businesses.

Women in the workforce will be critical in pivoting old and new economies. And the gender balance is integral to how fast change occurs — how fast you allow yourself to unlearn and relearn determines how successful you can become in the future.

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