“We all know the arguments for a proper D&I policy and one of the unsaid ones is that not only is it the right thing to do from an integrity perspective, but it is more often than not the right thing to do for your bottom line.”
Discussing her time prior to the FCA, Shepperd said when pregnant with her second child, her then boss asked 'How’s the illness?'
“Of course back then I laughed it off – through gritted teeth - but there is no way you would get away with it today,” she said.
“Even during my 12-week maternity leave - yes I said weeks, not months – I was dialling into work every week to make sure I was staying on top of things. I mean I took keeping in touch days to a whole new level.”
During her career, Shepperd said she was often told by men – 'You’re very good at what you do Emily but you need to have more… polish. You need to have more gravitas’.
“Very easy for a six-foot-two man to say when all he has to do is put on a dark suit, tie and white shirt,” she said. “A bit harder to achieve as a then younger, under five-foot woman.
“In fact, when women have been successful in reaching one of the top jobs in an organisation, it has often been as COO.”
However, she added: “Times have thankfully changed. But there is still more work to do. There is always more work to do.”
Touching on the consumer duty, she said the FCA’s role can only become easier if it makes sure firms are on board – or at least clear – about what the regulations expect of them.
“One policy that firms have not hesitated in giving us feedback on is the upcoming consumer duty,” she said.
“Now is a good time to remind everyone that the deadline is just six months away.”
Shepperd said now is a good time to line up distributors and other third parties to make sure they understand the principles and practice of the duty.
“Change is hard, we get it. But the principles of the consumer duty should not be controversial.
“Indeed, we’ve seen many excellent examples of industry embracing these.”
She said the FCA is asking firms to put customers at the centre of the products and services they offer and demonstrate the decision-making process around that.
“We also ask that the information you provide to them is clear and relevant to your target market,” she said.