In Focus: Advice for Women  

Fund manager diversity matters for investors

Fund manager diversity matters for investors
Photo: John Diez via Pexels

Better long-term returns for investors rely on diverse investment trust boards, the Association of Investment Companies has said.

Speaking to FTAdviser In Focus, the AIC said the number of female investment company managers and company directorships has risen over the past few years. 

According to the latest data, there are now 92 investment companies that have female managers, out of a total of 343 investment companies. This means 27 per cent of investment companies are managed by women.

Additionally, 33 per cent of investment company directorships are held by women, compared with 2018 figures, when the number was 22 per cent.

Put in context, Investec’s latest 'Skin in the Game' report, which covers everything from how many investment managers are putting their own money in the funds they run, to an assessment on investment diversity, quoted a figure of just 8 per cent for 2010.

Annabel Brodie-Smith, communications director at the AIC, said: “Diverse teams make better decisions.

"Groups that support diversity when it comes to gender, background and expertise will naturally have a broader range of experience to draw on.

"These diverse views help to promote creativity and effective challenge, as well as limiting group think. For fund management, this ultimately leads to better long-term returns for investors."

Brodie-Smith added that, when it comes to investment company boards, the industry had responded well to initiatives such as the Hampton Alexander Review, and highlighted the fact that, currently, 33 per cent of investment company directors are women.

Still a way to go

However, earlier this week (September 6), FTAdviser's David Thorpe spoke with Ann Cairns, executive vice-chairman at Mastercard, who said there may still be many factors at play that work towards disenfranchising women from taking up senior roles in financial services.

Cairns, who is also global chairperson of the 30% Club, an initiative that campaigns for female representation on boards to be at least 30 per cent, told Thorpe while progress has been made on that front, "the wider diversity challenges that remain are much more deep-seated and cultural".

For example, she said part of the problem was that “relatively few women, even senior women in these companies, have jobs that come with responsibility for the profit-and-loss account", but that chief executives tended to be chosen from the ranks of finance directors and others with P&L responsibility.

Last year, the AIC launched its Pathway initiative, which is designed to attract new candidates from diverse backgrounds onto company boards. 

It provides presentations from Ian Sayers, chief executive of the AIC, introducing potential candidates to how investment companies work and what directors do.

It also gives free advice from headhunters and existing directors on everything from preparing for an interview to accessing non-exec development schemes.