Leadership Perspectives | 05.30.19
BISA Diversity & Inclusion Award Winner | Q&A MUFG Union Bank
By the time Mike Feldman joined MUFG Union Bank one decade ago, he’d already seen his share of industry changes, stretching back to his early days in community banking. With a rich history of supporting diversity and inclusion in prior leadership roles, he knew why some D&I programs fail – and also how to make them successful. “D&I has to be fully integrated,” he said, underscoring the need to tie any such efforts to overall business strategy.
Since taking charge of MUFG Union Bank’s Wealth Markets group in 2015, Feldman has helped enhance hiring practices to put heightened focus on recruiting more diverse candidates. But that was just the start. Having recruited more female advisors, for example, Feldman was ready to implement the group’s “Women and Wealth” program responsible for designing initiatives to better understand and engage with female clients. The bank has staged more than a dozen special diversity events over the past two years. These included two very successful "Noteworthy Women" events held last year in San Francisco and Los Angeles in conjunction with The Women's Advisory Council, comprised of senior women leaders within MUFG Union Bank. The forums featured a talk from Jean Chatzky, financial editor of NBC's “Today” show and content aimed at sharing female perspectives on investing, spending and saving. After one event, which drew about 300 clients and prospects, an attendee shared this feedback: “Very impressed with all of your efforts to provide women real, serious control of their financial lives. I feel MUFG Union Bank is creating a new business model.”
Another unique element of the D&I effort are the "Perspectives" monthly client email series; three installments were specifically focused on diversity issues.
Underscoring an overall dedication to diversity, MUFG Union Bank Wealth Markets has been named a recipient of the BISA 2019 Diversity & Inclusion Award.
BISA contributing writer Rich Blake recently caught up with Feldman to discuss the firm's ongoing D&I efforts.
What does winning the BISA Diversity & Inclusion award mean to you?
Mike Feldman: We are honored to receive this award. While this award and our team’s progress to date are certainly worth celebrating, diversity and inclusion is an ongoing focus for us and we need to constantly push forward and continue building on our successes.
What’s next on the strategic agenda to keep this D&I momentum going forward?
Feldman: To date, our efforts in diversity and inclusion have been well-received by our clients, and have been embraced by our entire Wealth Markets team, including the support of our senior leadership. We want to evolve and move the needle further and promote diversity and inclusion out in the market, as those segments present valuable business opportunities. We have a few exciting initiatives planned for 2019, including a new digital platform that connects directly with our Women and Wealth efforts, and much more to come.
What are your best practices for promoting workplace diversity and inclusion?
First and foremost is senior leadership buy-in and commitment. Our diversity and inclusion programs have benefitted tremendously from the support of our executive leaders. We are highly engaged in (and some, members of) our Women’s Advisory Council as well as our Women and Wealth Client events, setting the tone for increasing diversity across our entire group. In addition to leadership commitment, it’s crucial to make a financial investment in diversity and inclusion. We made diversity a significant portion of our marketing budget, sponsoring both internal and external events that have a heavy emphasis on diversity.
What advice do you have for other firms in the industry that are hoping to strengthen their diversity and inclusion efforts?
Feldman: It is critical to fully integrate diversity and inclusion into your business strategy or else sustainability will always be a push-pull. Every business faces constant challenges driven by changing economic cycles and the accompanying pressures to manage expenses and revenues.
No matter how sincere your intentions are, if an inclusion and diversity program is not tied to your business strategy, it’s only natural to push that program to the back burner when other challenges ratchet up. This is a trap that is easy to fall into and hard to dig your way out of.
The key is recognizing inclusion and diversity as more than just the right thing to do – it’s also strategically savvy and can drive significant business success.
As you were focusing on your own diversity and inclusion efforts, what challenges did you face?
Feldman: A key realization we made early on is that we had to make inclusion and diversity not just a goal, but a cornerstone of our strategy and ensure that it reverberated throughout our entire business. In other words, a key driver of our hiring practices and a big component of our marketing strategy, and instituting formal programs within our group to ensure our efforts translated into reality.
Within Wealth Markets, we created a Women and Wealth program responsible for designing initiatives to attract, retain and engage female clients by serving their unique financial needs. Before launching the client-facing portion of the Women and Wealth program, we first enhanced our hiring practices to put heightened focus on recruiting more diverse candidates. We then founded our Women’s Advisory Council, a group to govern the Women and Wealth strategy comprised of senior women leaders within our business.
The mission of the group is to lead the strategic vision for Women and Wealth, driving both client-facing and internal events, and ensuring that all efforts under Women and Wealth create value for our women clients and colleagues.
Want to learn more about why diversity and inclusion should be among your top business priorities. Listen to the April 2019 BISA Pop-up Peer Group Discussion.