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$1.4trn AM giant: how we’re tackling the diversity divide

$1.4trn AM giant: how we’re tackling the diversity divide

The Alpha Female 2017 report made sorry reading for the asset management industry’s gender diversity champions, with the plight of female fund managers revealed to be even worse than it was a year ago.

While anecdotal evidence suggests the masculine aura of the industry remains a huge barrier to entry, what practical measures are fund houses taking to encourage recruitment?

While M&G has a female-focused event to encourage recruitment and Aberdeen Asset Management has adopted positive discrimination efforts, there is evidently more to be done.

Responding the diversity findings of the survey, US firm Capital Group, which oversees $1.4 trillion in assets under management, has highlighted several initiatives designed to encourage greater female participation.

In figures sent to Citywire Selector, Capital Group said it has 4,178 female employees out of a total of 7,883 at the end of 2016, which equates to 53% of the company’s staff. At a senior management level, women account for 33% of roles.

In a bid to redress this, Capital Group launched the CAPtivate programme in 2014. A spokesperson for the company said: ‘CAPtivate works with women in undergraduate and graduate college programmes to help teach how to pitch investment stocks within a corporate environment.

‘Investment group associates agree to mentor the students, further growing the programme for both Capital Group and students from many diverse backgrounds. While not all will be hired by Capital Group, it positively increases the number of female candidates with increased confidence and skills to enter the financial industry.’

In a similar vein, Capital Group has also engaged with Women Communities (Employee Resource Groups) to create developmental and networking opportunities. It also runs a Women’s Leadership Programme, which is being piloted as a year-long global initiative.

This includes a curriculum built specifically for Capital Group with a number of renowned universities in different countries. Each woman attends online classes with her peers and is paired with a mentor and will attend in-person workshops designed to help her grow into a leader at Capital Group.

Speaking to Citywire Selector, Noriko Chen, equity portfolio manager and member of the Capital Group management committee, said:

‘Given Capital’s distinct style of managing money through teams of individuals pursuing their strongest investment convictions, diversity is critical – and that includes gender diversity. We know teams with different backgrounds, ages and styles will deliver better outcomes for investors.

‘There is much work still ahead to bring more women into asset management. We need to connect with women earlier in their education so they consider a career as a portfolio manager or research analyst.

‘The role of a professional investor is analytical, as well as a relationship job with a focus on delivering superior outcomes over the long-term. A successful portfolio manager is helping people live a more financially secure life. That is tremendously powerful.’

Capital Group boasts three female fund managers in the team overseeing the New Perspective strategy, Noriko Chen, Isabelle de Wismes and Jody Jonsson, which has $71.3 billion in assets under management. Noriko Chen is a named portfolio manager on Capital Group’s flagship American Funds New Perspective fund, as well as it is Luxembourg-domiciled mirror.

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