Written on: 8 March 2024

On International Women’s Day Sabina Liu, the first participant in FMSB’s Board mentoring programme, shares her perspective on how the programme benefitted both her and FMSB, as well as giving her advice to anyone aspiring to board roles in financial services.

1. You were the first participant in FMSB’s board mentoring programme. Can you describe how it worked?

The application process for the programme was designed to replicate an official non-executive search process which in itself was great experience. After I submitted my application, I was interviewed by Teneo People Advisory, who had lent their services to FMSB. I subsequently had an interview with then FMSB Chair Mark Yallop and two Board members, Niki Beattie and Michael Cole-Fontayn. After that I was thrilled to be informed that I had been offered a place on the one-year programme, along with another candidate, Emma Mangan from JP Morgan, who would join nine months after me.

The FMSB Board and executive team was very welcoming. I participated in meetings of the Board, Audit & Risk Committee and Nomination & Remuneration Committee from the start. In addition, during the first three months, I had one-to-one meetings with the Chair, Board members, CEO and Secretariat. Everyone gave me their unique perspective on the organisation, how the governance structure operates in terms of FMSB’s work as a Member organisation and the ongoing programme of work.

I also kept in touch with Board members outside of official meetings. It was useful for me to understand their views and Board dynamics as FMSB’s work evolved during the year and to bounce off ideas. I am particularly grateful to Niki Beattie, Chair of the Nomination & Remuneration Committee, who spent a lot of time with me to go through all aspects of board governance. I did a fair amount of reading on this subject and Niki shared her own experience of why some boards and businesses work well and some do not, as a result of the governance they put in place.

2. How have you benefitted from the programme?

Outside of the Board and Committee meetings, I also joined FMSB’s Advisory Council, Standards Board and other meetings. Through these I learnt how FMSB Members come together to produce Standards, Statements of Good Practice and topical Spotlight Reviews by consensus and the deep relations FMSB has with the global regulatory community. I came to appreciate the unique role of FMSB as an industry-led, member-funded, not-for-profit organisation and the exposure, through the programme, to such a wide range of views from senior stakeholders in our industry.

At Board meetings, every Board member brought in a wealth of experience and complimentary skills. The atmosphere was open and supportive. Like everyone else, I felt comfortable to give my views, even when they were sometimes different from others’. It was fascinating to observe and to practice, at real board meetings, how to frame the issues, how to suggest and analyse different solutions and how to influence others.

During my time at FMSB, the organisation went through a period of change, including the transition to a new Chair. It was rewarding to see this process in action and to have the opportunity to work with both Mark, and the new Chair, Jonathan Moulds, and benefit from their experience.

3. What do think you brought to the Board that benefitted FMSB?

I think I brought in a different perspective. My background is in equities, and I work at a global market infrastructure provider, which has overlap and differences from the FICC markets or how a sell-side or buy-side organisation operates. In addition, I come from an Asian cultural background and worked as a journalist earlier in my career. As a result of my background and experience I found myself seeing things differently and asking very different questions – for example, related to market structure, international strategy and communications strategy.

I was also the Global Co-Chair of the Women’s Inspired Network at my firm, where we did a lot of work trying to remove systemic barriers and build a diverse and inclusive culture. I was glad to be able to contribute to this agenda at FMSB and, via its Members, I hope to the wider industry.

4. What skills are you going to take away from the programme for the future?

It was invaluable, through the programme, to see how decisions are made at board level and how boards affect change in business.

The experience at FMSB was practical and useful not only for my future board career, but also for my executive career right now. I am already applying the strategic thinking, influencing and problem-solving skills from this experience to my day job. I am also more conscious of the diverse thinking and approach that my colleagues bring to the table, and how I can create the right environment to bring the best out of everyone I work with.

5. What advice would you give to other individuals who aspire to gain board experience?

I hope this programme, and talking openly about my experience as a participant, can help demystify boards for anyone who is aspiring to start their non-executive journey, particularly in financial services. Regardless of gender, background or career stage, individuals with their industry experience and perspectives, can add value to board discussions.

Gaining practical experience on a programme like this is very effective, but there is also a lot of good material out there for motivated individuals to read and learn more about the roles and responsibilities of a NED and how boards work.

For those still pursuing executive careers, having a good relationship with your manager and getting their support for your potential board journey, and applying the kind of thinking boards use to the business you work in, is a good idea.

Finally, seeking mentors with board experience within and outside of your organisation is immensely helpful and I would definitely encourage that.

I am thrilled that FMSB will continue to run this Programme. I couldn’t recommend it more to anyone working in the financial markets who aspires to board roles!


Sabina is Head of Equities Trading Sales, UK Agency Clients & APAC at London Stock Exchange Group. With a background in international journalism and an MBA from Oxford Saïd Business School, Sabina currently develops new business and manages relationships with clients in the UK and APAC. With the project team at LSEG, she launched the Shanghai London Stock Connect in 2019. She co-chaired LSEG’s global women’s network WIN for two years, influencing and shaping diversity and inclusion at LSEG and beyond. Sabina started the FMSB Board mentoring programme in January 2023.

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