Exciting to be first: Q&A with CFA Societies Australia's Lisa Carroll June 2019

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It's been nine months since Lisa Carroll's appointment as the inaugural National CEO of CFA Societies Australia. We ask her about the joys and challenges of the role so far and her goals in the first 12 months. She also shares her view on the challenges facing the industry and the CFA's part in rebuilding trust, and offers some sage advice to her younger self.

What have been some of the challenging parts of being the first in a role?

Being first in the role is exciting and was certainly an attractive element of taking on the role. All the usual challenges are there, such as coming to know and understand a diverse range of stakeholders and their interests and priorities – and being the first national CEO often there were diverse views on where my role should focus.

And what are you enjoying most about the role so far?

I’m learning a lot, which is usually when I’m most engaged. I’m also working with a new and diverse range of stakeholders – including some really impressive and committed volunteer Board members. There’s a real sense of purpose and making a difference. I particularly enjoy developing strategy, which has a been a primary focus in the early months.

Can you share some of your goals for the first 12 months?

As a membership body providing member value and achieving high levels of member engagement is at our core, so I want to keep building on that. We want to continue to increase the recognition and understanding of the value of the CFA Charter and broaden our engagement right across the financial services and investment management landscape. I’m also very focused on building the CFA brand and advocating on issues that affect investors and market integrity. Starting to positively influence diversity in investment management firms and among our membership – particularly our gender diversity – is a priority and there are some great initiatives already under way such as our Experimental Partner Program that is contributing to global research on industry best practice.

What are the main challenges facing the financial services industry in Australia at the moment?

Trust is a key one following the Hayne Royal Commission. The industry is also changing rapidly especially through technology – AI, machine learning, data science. Skills, roles and cultures all need to adapt, and greater diversity in investment management firms is vital. CFA Institute research shows that in Australia 58% believe their roles will be significantly different or unlikely to exist within five to 10 years, which is staggering. We’re working to support our members and the industry to adapt and thrive in this environment of constant change.

"CFA Institute research shows that in Australia 58% believe their roles will be significantly different or unlikely to exist within five to 10 years, which is staggering.'

Does the CFA have a role in rebuilding trust in the financial services industry in Australia?

Yes – definitely. Our mission is to lead the investment management profession through the highest standards of ethics, education and professional practice for the ultimate benefit of society. As a professional body we believe in putting clients and investors rights first. We are actively engaging with industry to bring our deep expertise on ethical decision making, our codes and standards, and the rigour of our education program to bear on the questions of trust and market integrity.

"Our mission is to lead the investment management profession through the highest standards of ethics, education and professional practice for the ultimate benefit of society.'

Where did you grow up and what was it like?

I’m a Melbourne girl. I thought my childhood utterly typical and only learnt later to really appreciate the value of family and education – things I took totally for granted. As a Melburnian I also appreciate great coffee, Aussie Rules (Geelong Cats), and Boxing Day tests.

With the benefit of hindsight, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Take more risks. Enjoy the ride. Don’t be too hard on yourself

"More needs to be done to ensure fair, safe and affordable credit is available as an alternative to exploitative lending practices, in order to help tackle the significant issue of financial exclusion in Australia. '

What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

I spent a couple of years prior to this role working in microfinance – initially as a volunteer board member and then managing lending programs for people on very low incomes, and supporting the build and launch of a fintech solution in speckle.com.au. More needs to be done to ensure fair, safe and affordable credit is available as an alternative to exploitative lending practices, in order to help tackle the significant issue of financial exclusion in Australia. It remains a cause I am passionate about.

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