Eigentlich hatte sie ihr Leben ganz anders geplant: Dr. Eva Lemke war Lehrerin für Deutsch und Russisch in der DDR, arbeitete in der Lehrerausbildung- und dann kam die Wende. Durch Zufall kam sie mit der Finanzbranche in Berührung und machte sich als Anlageberaterin selbständig. Mit Guntram Schloss zusammen gründete sie den Broker Pool „Apella“ und war dort von 2001 bis 2019 im Vorstand tätig. Dann wechselte sie in den Aufsichtsrat. Fondsfrau Anke Dembowski unterhält sich mit ihr über ihre Erfahrungen in der Finanzbranche. In einem weiteren Interview geht es darum, ob es sich heute noch lohnt, sich als Anlageberaterin selbständig zu machen.
Eva, you co-founded the broker pool "Apella" and were then a board member of Apella AG for almost 20 years. How did it feel to be a woman on the board?
The broker association Apella has been around since 1993, and I was there from the beginning. In 1999, Apella AG was founded. I was an authorized signatory there for two years, and when Guntram Schloss proposed me as a member of the Executive Board, it didn't seem so special to me to be on the board of a stock corporation. After all, I had already held a management position at the university. Only gradually did I realize that I was perceived specifically as a woman on the management board, and I then understood that this was already something special.
We Fondsfrauen often ask ourselves why women tend to be more reticent about job offers and why they are more modest than men in salary negotiations. We suspect it has a lot to do with socialization. You grew up in the GDR. Did the 41 years in the GDR really lead to a different socialization than in the west?
In the GDR, it was actually quite normal for both women and men to work after completing their training or studies and to start a family at the same time. An important advantage was that we didn't have to think about what would happen to our children. Care was guaranteed, day care centers were open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; in some cities even longer. There were even facilities where children could stay for a whole week. It must also be said, however, that it was not only easy to have both children and a job, but that women worked as a matter of course, above all to ensure an adequate family income.
Was this also about emancipation?
To a certain extent, perhaps. I think that women in the GDR earned their own money and simply didn't want to be dependent. I still find this independence very beneficial today. Nevertheless, it was often the case in the GDR that married couples had a joint account, and the person who was better at it managed the joint account. In my family, it was always the women, and that was apparently okay for the men.
You studied German and Slavic studies and worked as a teacher and lecturer. How did you end up in the financial sector, and what fascinated you about it?
I had followed up my teacher training with a research degree. My dissertation was about teaching German. As a graduate teacher of German and Russian, I had first taught school classes and later teacher-students. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, all teachers at colleges and universities were evaluated, especially with regard to their political past. In 1992 it was clear that I - like many others - would not be accepted into the university. In the end, we were no longer wanted in teacher training. Through a colleague I came to a lecture at the financial service provider Trithan; Udo Keller had given such a motivating lecture there with his effective voice. I told my university colleagues about it at home. They immediately became my first customers. The fact that I brokered investment funds came about by chance, so to speak. I enjoyed working as a broker and built up 400 clients myself. I still look after about a quarter of them today. The motivation of Guntram Schloß and me was: We wanted every family to invest in at least one well-managed equity fund!
What was the most fascinating thing about it for you?
I am still fascinated by the fact that I participate in the profit of companies via equity funds. I find this idea simply ingenious! The possibility of building up assets via fund savings plans is also simply practical and good.
Nevertheless, the industry has a bad reputation....
Yes, I already knew that at the time, but that's exactly what I wanted to change. In the beginning, I actually received a lot of negative messages when I wanted to set up my own business in fund sales. In this respect, it was good that Guntram Schloss and other fund enthusiasts were there as brokers with a similar mindset. Because I could not see at the beginning whether one can live alone from the fund selling, I had taught besides at the VHS. But then I decided to become a broker and to build up the broker association Apella. From today's perspective, that was one of the best decisions in my life. Apella has a good reputation and certainly contributes to a positive image of the industry.
Probably not many people know what you do as a board member in a broker pool. Can you describe your work a little?
In the beginning, there was only Guntram and me. Guntram was the "sales department" and the technician. For example, he programmed the software for customer and contract management and for brokerage fee accounting. I concentrated on brokerage contracts and fund settlements, checking applications and processing returns. As the volume of work grew, we hired employees who then handled office work such as application processing, bookkeeping, brokerage billing, etc. We were then more of a business management team. We then took on a more managerial role, taking care of the connections with brokers and companies, the development of services and IT, sales and marketing. As a board member, I was responsible for the internal organization, human resources, commission accounting and accounting, and to some extent also for marketing, including event organization. It was only later that we established a board department for sales and marketing and a second level of responsibility for individual specialist and product areas. I am sometimes amazed myself that we are now already around 50 employees strong.
Were you also sometimes treated strangely due to the fact that you are a woman?
No, that was never the case. I was always treated very respectfully and with great courtesy.
In the almost 20 years of your observation, has anything changed in terms of gender diversity in the financial industry?
On the part of the companies, I see that there are more women in management positions. Among brokers, the number of women is still below average. In the Apella group, about 1/6 are women. From my point of view, women play a bigger role in younger brokerage companies than in long-established ones. Overall, however, femininity has increased, I find; also in the media. And the fund women are also very well known and certainly encourage many women to act in the industry.
Courage is a good keyword. Sometimes we complain at events that there are too few women on the podium. What can organizers do to ensure that more women come to financial events and also want to discuss as experts on the podium?
I think a lot of women like to be approached personally, not just "we're looking for someone, is anyone interested?". Women want it to be more personal. So it pays to just pick up the phone and say, "we'd love to have you on the panel!" or "can you please write a piece for us?" I think women like to have an individual, an extra invitation, want to be given special attention. Maybe otherwise they don't feel like they're that important to appear in public. But when they do, for the most part, they're awesome!
Thank you very much for the inspiring interview!