Women entering the fund management industry should strive to be themselves and embrace the diversity they can bring to asset management firms.

That was part of the encouragement given by an experienced panel of women to younger females seeking a career in fund management.

The panel, which included CEO of M&G, Anne Richards, and the former CEO of Newton Investment Management, Helena Morrissey, detailed the challenges they faced working in the industry and answered questions from recent graduates contemplating entering the industry.

Responding to a concern about competing alongside men, Morrissey told graduates to never try to be a man.

Citywire AA-rated Alix Stewart, who manages several bond funds at Schroders and is a member of the Schroders' Network of Women, said that women could help prevent ‘group think’.  

‘You've seen films like The Wolf of Wall Street and there is this perception that to be the best investor you have to be an alpha male. Alpha males do exist, but the best teams and the best decisions are made when you have diversity.

'What has worked for me is accepting that I am never going to be that person, I am going to be completely different. That doesn't mean that I am as every bit as valuable to the team.

'In fact, if there is too many of the same type of person, you are even more valuable. If there is one bit of advice that I could give to you, it is to value what you bring to the table and see through the bluster. Just be yourself.'

Taking risk

Addressing a question on whether men take more risk than women, Richards pointed to statistics showing that the risk appetites between the sexes were not too different.

‘It is no different to the risk which you take in your everyday lives. When you decide to cross the road you take your life into your own hands without getting mown down by a bus. What we do is take risk in an informed way,’ Richards said.

Richards, who also gave the keynote speech at the event, said people from a variety of backgrounds needed in the fund management industry and women could help improve diversity.

‘It is about paying it forward. Never forget as you go through your wonderful careers to reach out a hand to people coming up behind you because someone probably gave you a lift even if you weren't aware of it.

'Always be prepared to give someone a leg up because that is how we create this virtuous chain that changes the world bit by bit.’