Fund managers disappoint over female hiring

Three-quarters of fund management companies say they have no intention of introducing gender-related targets for recruitment, despite many asset managers employing zero female staff to run their clients’ money.

A study compiled by Aviva Investors, one of the UK’s largest asset managers, found that 75 per cent of investment companies have no plans to instigate gender-related objectives across their businesses, in defiance of criticism that women are being ignored by the industry.

According to statistics, just one in 10 fund managers in the UK are female, while in the US only 184 of 7,000 mutual funds are run by women.

Of the 39 fund companies polled by Aviva, three had no female investment staff. Almost all of the investment companies that responded to Aviva’s survey, however, stated that they recognised diverse teams and businesses are more successful.

Isabel Emo Capodilista, head of the multi-manager research team at Aviva, said: “When it comes to diversity, it is clear that there is a gap between sentiment and reality. Bearing in mind the growing evidence that diverse teams have the tendency to positively influence investment performance, we would expect more financial institutions to instigate policies aimed at narrowing the gender gap both in the workplace and at more senior levels.”

Jason Hollands, managing director at Tilney Bestinvest, the wealth manager that compiled the data on the number of female fund managers employed in the UK, said: “Gross gender imbalance in the asset management industry is an irrefutable fact, but the unanswered question is why this is the case when women represent a large ratio of university graduates, and improved diversity is evident in many other professions.”

He added that in the UK almost half of GPs are women, one in four partners at law firms are female and the proportion of women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies is 26 per cent.

In June last year a group of Europe’s largest asset managers, including Aberdeen Asset Management, Schroders and Allianz Global Investors, joined forces in an attempt to address claims that the asset management market is an old boys’ club that promotes and protects the interests of white, middle-aged men.

Almost 30 companies and industry organisations signed up to the campaign, called The Diversity Project, to try to ensure diverse recruitment across the industry in terms of gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, age, sexual orientation and disability.

Anne Richards, chief executive of M&G, one of the UK’s largest asset management companies, told FTfm last year: “We lost too many women from the industry a few years ago at a critical moment, which has left a big gap. It is not obvious how we are going to fill it.”

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