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Move over Anna Wintour, Larke Riemer is here

01 November 2011

American ‘Vogue’ and its Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour have their September issue. Apparently, it’s so influential it sets, makes and establishes the trends for the next year in fashion; takes a staggering amount of work to put together and has had its own film made about it, ‘The September Issue’.

But if Anna Wintour (sometimes known behind her back as “Nuclear Wintour”) thinks her Septembers are full on, she oughta see my October.

Firstly, there were the new TV ads we launched for our massive national women’s financial, savings and super campaign, as well as the development, execution and delivery of the products themselves. Along with that, our15-year relationship with the National Breast Cancer Foundation and our focus on its very important work, especially its Register4 initiative, which we helped launch in 2010 with a pink march to Martin Place in Sydney and this year with over 8000 pink origami cranes formed into a ‘tree of wishes for a cure’, has been continuing apace. 

Then there was our survey of women and their financial health and the startlingly ‘poor’ results for women and their finances, including super, that were uncovered. 

On average, women retire with half as much superannuation as men (Research by The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia), despite having longer life expectancies. When questioned about retirement income, women estimated they would need less money than men in retirement, but still wanted to achieve an income of over $800 per week. This equates to almost $40,000 per year, resulting in most women needing close to $1million to sufficiently service their financial needs in retirement. The average female Australian’s superfund currently sits at $150,000 - showing a substantial gap between expectations and reality. It confirms that much still has to be done in this space and that our focus on correcting the imbalance and supporting women to have a conversation about their financial health is hugely worthwhile and on the mark. 

This October was also the Global Banking Alliance (GBA) Summit, which Westpac hosted this year in Sydney. The four day ‘Learn-Lead-and-Succeed’ conference (to borrow one of our Ruby Women’s Markets terms as a descriptor), teased out how each of our members are playing an important role making a difference for women, supporting them to be financially independent and secure.

In the competitive banking space it’s unusual to come across the level of engagement and willingness to share strategies and initiatives that happens when GBA members come together. I love that our genuine desire to create sustainable financial futures for women ranks over and above competitive edge with all of us.

The gala dinner during the conference was a high point, similar to seeing the September issue hit the newsstands, I imagine. 

I was on the ‘official’ table with CEO Gail Kelly, colleagues, and members of the GBA and sitting next to our keynote speaker, Labor Senator the Honourable Penny Wong. The formalities of the dinner over, I turned to Penny to chat about the government’s super strategies for women and asked what she had on her agenda the next day and was it going to be busy? 

There was an audible intake of breath from some around the table, a look of quizzical wonder from Penny, and for a split second I was left wondering if I’d come from another planet. 

It was then that my colleague, Peter Hanlon, jumped to my rescue, saying: ‘you have to forgive Larke, she’s been extraordinarily busy organizing 100s of initiatives and events for weeks now and may be a little out of touch with current affairs’.

Things still weren’t clicking into place for me, when Penny gathered her thoughts together, laughed and answered: ‘I’m voting on the Carbon Tax, tomorrow’. 

Now I understand her look of wonder at my question. I’d been that ensconced in my own world I’d failed to properly register the media and political uproar of the preceding few weeks. Sometimes, there’s just so much multi-tasking a person can do. 

Carbon aside for a moment, the thing that came home to me throughout the Summit and October were our authentic connections. Our commitment to sharing was praised by every GBA member and our products and services acknowledged for their genuine support of women by women themselves. On top of this, is the proven engagement we have with our Ruby members.

It’s a well-known fact that if social networking channels are to work they must be based on a genuine commitment to communication and they must be authentic about their message and what they hope to achieve. Ruby has it in spades or we wouldn’t receive the member interest we do.

Take our women and financial health survey /articles/australian-women-lack-financial-confidence-and-are-underprepared-for-retirement

The results done with the General Public were as fascinating as they were worrying. So when we decided to open it up to you, our Ruby members, it was exciting to see your fantastic response. The experts will tell you anything above 3 percent is considered solid so our 10 percent response rate was outstanding. Your answers also showed a deep engagement with the issues and I want to personally thank all those who took the time to make it such a success. Releasing the results in the near future is something we know you’ll enjoy.

Next year, 2012, the GBA Summit is in Turkey, a country that’s doing amazing things around banking and ensuring financial sustainability for women. The recent news of an earthquake in the country’s east is a terrible tragedy and our hearts and best wishes go out to everyone affected.



  • Clare Mann

    Clare Mann 8 years ago

    The popularity of Vogue and other glossy magazines has much to do with images of glamour and sophistication we experience just by flipping through the pages. An vicarious sense of achievement and wellbeing arises simply by seeing images of success, status, wealth and glamour. A more critical eye knows that virtually every other page is an advert - the purchaser of the magazine is literally paying to be marketed to. What a lesson in identifying the customer's pain and offering a solution to salve the discomfort of feeling inadequate?Larke's baby 'The Ruby Connection' doesn't stop at a glamorous frontcover - flip through the pages of the site to reveal a robust, inspiring and inviting community of influential women who are truly changing our society for the better. Each member offers unique gifts and are an invitation to others to join 'The Big Table' of movers and shakers - in the family, local community, organisations and society at large. Larke leads the way on this. Imagine sitting at the top table at the Gala Dinner of the GBA and making a public faux pas, resulting in incredulous looks and thoughts of 'Larke where have you been? Asking the Right Honourable Penny Wong what she up to tomorrow when the whole nation holds its breath as the voting begins next morning on the carbon tax bill!' We've all been there; that moment of 'dropping a clanger' as the English would say. In that moment one has a choice - to feel humiliated, unsophisticated, destinctly un-glamorous and wanting the floor to open up beneath us. The other choice is one which Larke invites us to embrace - admit that it is just a faux pas - not a measure of our ability, intellect or impact on the world and certainly not our sophistication. Let's keep putting our hands up and saying 'Yep I've been there but guess what, it honestly doesn't matter. What does matter is the contribution I am making and the value I add in what I do'. When we do this we are communicating much more than a confidence in our ourselves. We literally give others permission to also get out of the way of themselves and get on with doing what is most important - shining their own light and making a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others.