JBWere’s Maria Lykouras on the importance for women of creating wealth and managing money


As the first female Executive for JBWere, Maria Lykouras brings over 23 years of experience as a widely respected leader in the financial services sector. 

Maria Lykouras joined JBWere in July 2022 as Executive, JBWere, bringing over 23 years of experience as a widely respected executive leader in the financial services sector. During her time managing Advice businesses, she has successfully delivered sustainable growth, strong risk and governance and productivity improvements across all areas of wealth management.

Lykouras joined JBWere, having spent 10 years with CBA, where she led the CommPrivate Advice Business as General Manager, Advice. She has also worked across strategic risk, compliance and advisory roles at BT Financial Group, Count Financial, Australia Skandia, ipac and Citibank.

Lykouras will speak at the inaugural Forbes Australia Women’s Summit on the 22nd of March, presented by NAB Private Wealth. She’ll be joined by other influential women, including Miranda Kerr, Christine Holgate and Natasha Oakley, discussing how to break barriers in business, build wealth and make industry connections. See the full line-up and get your tickets: Women’s Summit 2023 – Forbes Australia.

Here, Lykouras tells Forbes Australia, in an exclusive Q&A session, the importance of having women in leadership roles, her career challenges and triumphs, and why women should know how to create wealth and be able to manage their money.

What is the importance of seeing more women in leadership roles, particularly in financial services?

I believe seeing women in leadership roles is incredibly important. We already know the financial benefits. The statistics are clear that the Australian economy would gain $8 billion if women transitioned from tertiary education into the workforce at the same rate as men. Arguably though, the societal benefits are even greater. When we have strong representation of women at the top layers of our companies, we’re giving confidence to emerging leaders that there is a path ahead. The saying that you need to see it to be it is so true. By striving for more women in leadership positions, we challenge rigid gender roles and create space for the next generation of individuals to achieve unrestrained ambitions. When leadership truly reflects the communities we serve, we create a virtuous circle where more people aspire to take on the challenges and rewards that leadership brings.

What was one challenge you have faced so far in your career that made you more determined to continue and achieve success?

I think, like many women when I started in financial services, I had an expectation that if you worked really hard, the results would speak for themselves. Especially as I took on roles with significant responsibilities, I held onto this belief that if you continued to push yourself to achieve, learn, and put in the hard yards late into the night and most weekends, your effort will be recognised. And it wasn’t until after many years of working this way that I got the guts to go to my boss with a list of my outcomes, the next set of deliverables and a request for resources. He said no. And that’s when I realised that your results don’t always speak for themselves. You have to speak for yourself. It is challenging to overcome our inherent behaviour to put everyone else’s needs before our own. Still, I became determined to deal with how uncomfortable this felt at first and to advocate for myself. I make sure the leaders and my peers I work with now know what I have and want to achieve, and I talk to my boss about my career goals and what I need to succeed.

For women, what is the importance of knowing how to create their own wealth and
manage it?

I feel it is more than important; it is critical. Creating your own wealth allows you to have freedom and security but also the ability to make your own choices. I believe everyone should have access to learning about the fundamentals of money and how it can be used as the foundation of achieving your goals. Additionally, understanding how to manage money is even more critical. When looking at factors like the divorce rate, underneath, there is a real pattern that one of the individuals in the relationship, usually the female (although this is changing), hasn’t had the need or opportunity to understand their real financial situation. Often, they’re left feeling financially vulnerable at a time when they have important decisions to make for themselves and their family. Knowledge is power, and understanding how to create and manage wealth gives you the power to make the right choices.

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