Most Influential People in Finance — Christine Lagarde

The finance sector is a fast-paced, ever-changing industry dominated by influencers and thought leaders. While many people ‘make it’ on a small-time scale, attracting a solid following and maneuvering their way through the industry with expert precision, others leave a much more lasting impression. This Medium series from content marketing agency Contentworks will look at the most influential people in finance including what they’ve achieved and why they’re at the top of their game. This article focuses on Christine Lagarde.

Chairman of the International Money Fund (IMF)

As the Managing Director and first female head of the International Money Fund, Christine Lagarde is undoubtedly one of the most influential people in finance. Providing financial oversight and guidance for the IMF’s 189 member countries since 2011 including China, Russia and the UK, it’s perhaps no wonder that Lagarde is currently #3 on The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list by Forbes. She follows German politician Angela Merkel in the top spot and former UK Prime Minister Theresa May at #2.

Under her tenure, the IMF has had to navigate many challenging situations. From the eurozone debt crisis to emerging market risks including the US/China trade war, being in such a high position has been no walk in the park. In November, she was forced to warn that disputes and tariffs are putting global growth under threat and urged countries to fix global trade.

Lagarde has also played a crucial role in the digital currency sphere asking central banks to adopt digital currency options in order to keep the digital economy afloat.

Fun Fact: In her teenage years, Lagarde was a swimmer and a member of the French synchronised swimming team.

President of the European Central Bank — Nominee

Christine Lagarde has resigned as Managing Director of the International Money Fund which will take affect from 12th September 2019. This is in light of her nomination for the President of the European Central Bank. While already one of the world’s most powerful females, she’s poised to adopt even greater influence of the finance sector with her nomination being announced via tweet by European Council President, Donald Tusk.

If successful, Lagarde will become the first female head of European monetary policy which is huge news for the development of the finance sector. She would succeed current ECB president Mario Draghi, who has held the role since 2011 and whose term ends on October 31.

An Advocate for Gender Diversity

Lagarde is well-known for saying “If it had been the Lehman sisters, it would have been a different world.” She’s referring to the Lehman brothers whose bankruptcy filing in 2008 is the largest ever seen in US history. It’s thought to have played a significant role in the unfolding of the 2007–2008 financial crisis, with Lagarde stating how the male domination of banking could lead to another financial collapse.

During her career, she has called for reforms that advocate gender diversity believing more women in top positions will help to stabilise the finance sector. Backing up her point, she said: “Greater diversity always sharpens thinking, reducing the potential for group think.” She added. “This very diversity also leads to more prudence, and less of reckless decision-making that provoked the crisis.”

These comments are made against a male-dominated financial background with the chief executives and chairs of Britain’s four largest banks, for example, all being male. The proportion of female directors at FTSE-companies is also in decline. But, of course, there are exceptions with Shriti Vadera being the Chairwoman of Santander and Virgin Money having both a female chair and executive.

With Legarde’s President of the European Bank position pending, it will be interesting to see how gender diversity unfolds in the next few years.

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