Breaking down barriers and achieving ambitions

A fascinating insight into the experiences of a female leader within the financial services industry and how her company is fostering diversity while facing key challenges

Isavella Korelidou-Evripidou, Founder and Chief Executive of GFSC Global 

“An entrepreneurial spirit led me to start my own ventures,” says Isavella Korelidou-Evripidou, Founder and Chief Executive of Global Financial Services Consultants (GFSC Global) – an award-winning consulting group offering services across the corporate, legal, regulatory, financial and banking fields.

“I founded and managed several businesses and thrived on identifying opportunities, with the aim of making a positive impact in the business world,” she says. Today GFSC Global operates in more than 70 countries, providing advice, planning support, structural management and licensing services to clients across the world.

“We work with a broad range of corporate and private clients, including multinational corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), start-ups, entrepreneurs, financial organisations, banks, crypto exchangers, investment funds and high-net-worth individuals,” she says. “We specialise in worldwide licensing, AML/compliance support, legal support and company formation, providing tailored solutions with over 20 years’ experience.”

Overcoming gender bias
For Korelidou-Evripidou, founding and running the business has come with an abundance of rewards – but it hasn’t been without its challenges, especially when it comes to gender equity. “Breaking into leadership positions as a woman often requires overcoming biases and stereotypes that may exist within organisations,” she explains.

Female founders and CEOs have a chance to drive meaningful change within their organisations

She believes the under-representation of women in senior leadership roles can in turn make it harder for female founders and CEOs to find mentors, sponsors or role models who have navigated similar paths. “The other issue is around work/life balance,” she says. “Juggling demanding leadership roles with personal commitments and family responsibilities can be particularly challenging.” But for Korelidou-Evripidou, being a woman in a male-dominated industry can also offer opportunities.

“Female founders and CEOs have a chance to drive meaningful change within their organisations and the industry as a whole, shaping policies, practices and cultures, while contributing to greater gender diversity and inclusion within the industry,” she says. “Successful female leaders can inspire other women to pursue leadership positions in finance and break down barriers for future generations.”

Diverse leadership
Korelidou-Evripidou believes cultivating that diversity doesn’t just benefit women; it leads to better outcomes for everyone involved. “Companies with diverse leadership teams tend to perform better,” she says. “Female founders and CEOs can contribute to improved business outcomes through their unique perspectives and experiences.”

Learning from her own experience, she has made it her mission to encourage greater diversity in all forms. “I believe creating an environment where all team members feel comfortable sharing their perspectives and ideas is crucial for encouraging diversity,” she says. “My top tip for leaders is to encourage open communication, active listening and collaboration among team members to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and valued.

“It’s also crucial to recognise and celebrate the unique backgrounds, experiences and perspectives that each team member brings to the table, and to ensure that leadership positions reflect diversity by actively promoting and supporting individuals from under-represented groups,” she says.

Adapting to change
That progressive leadership style isn’t just seen in Korelidou-Evripidou’s response to diversity; it is also reflected in the company’s approach to major challenges – most notably demonstrated during and since the pandemic.

Despite the challenges, GFSC Global managed to continue to grow, improving its financial results in 2023. “We did this by focusing on our strengths and building on our core competencies, putting the emphasis on strategic cost management, innovative business models and digital transformation,” she says.

The firm invested in technology to enhance its operations and improve customer experiences, and saw an opportunity to explore new markets and diversify its revenue streams. “With shifts in consumer behaviour and preferences, we sought opportunities in emerging markets and untapped demographics,” she continues. “This involved strategic market research, analysis of consumer behaviour and targeted marketing efforts to effectively engage with new customer segments.”

Future ambitions
The pandemic isn’t the only hurdle the company has faced; Korelidou-Evripidou points to regulatory challenges as one of the key issues for the industry. “As governments around the world strive to protect consumers, investors and the public interest, they have implemented stricter regulations across various sectors,” she says.

“This has led to a greater burden on corporations to ensure compliance with these regulations, resulting in increased legal and regulatory costs. The rapid pace at which regulations are changing makes it challenging for corporations to keep up with the latest requirements.”

But if the company’s past approach to challenges is anything to go by, these setbacks will only create further opportunities for innovation, adaptation and growth – and the company is already plotting its expansion plans. “We are approaching new jurisdictions for licenses in brokerage, crypto, gaming, banking, investment funds, blockchain and many other projects,” she says.

“We aim to continue the success of 2023 this year and beyond, using our experience and knowledge to deliver the best possible service to our clients,” she says. “We also want to continue cultivating a diverse, supportive team that not only benefits the bottom line, but inspires others to break down barriers and achieve their ambitions – as I am proud to have done,” Korelidou-Evripidou concludes.