Diversity and Inclusion  

Balancing work and maternity leave

Balancing work and maternity leave

When Alexandra Jackson joined Rathbones as a graduate in 2007, a natural consideration would have been to choose whether to delay having a family or becoming a fund manager. But she has been able to do both. 

Ms Jackson, who has been manager of the Rathbone UK Opportunities Fund since 2017 says: “Most people think which one should they delay? Do you delay having a family or do you delay becoming a manager?” 

She attributes this to the fact a lot of women may deem it pointless to become fund managers before going on maternity as their track record often suffers as a result of taking extended time off work. 

Key Points:

  • Female fund managers fear their track record will suffer when they go on maternity leave. 
  • Having a co-manager could be key to maintaining a track record.
  • Equalising maternity/paternity rights will change ‘main care giver’ perception.

Ms Jackson has two daughters, aged seven and four. She first became assistant fund manager of the fund – which was then called the Rathbone Recovery fund – in the middle of an eight-month maternity period in 2013.So how did she manage her track record? 

Track record

Ms Jackson says she did not face an issue with her track record because, at the time she went on maternity, she was not a fund manager. But she says she may have struggled to maintain a track record had she been a fund manager before maternity. 

“Track record is everything for fund managers,” says Ms Jackson. It is a key barometer of success in finance, particularly in fund management. 

When choosing a manager, investors, intermediaries or consultants typically use track record to compare the success of different fund managers, and particularly how well their funds performed during times of economic distress.

Ms Jackson cautions that having a six-month to one-year gap in the track record “makes it much harder for clients, intermediaries or consultants to be able to use the track record as a decision-making tool”.

According to Ms Jackson, track record matters because it is harder for fund managers to raise assets or for clients to entrust their savings into the hands of a fund manager with a poor record. 

She adds that the fund management industry needs to think harder about how women and anybody who takes an extended career break maintain their track record.

Co-management

When Ms Jackson had her second daughter in 2017, she said she was “completely off” for a six-month period during her maternity, with her co-manager taking charge. 

She had been made co-manager of the Rathbone Recovery Fund in 2014. 

When she had her first child she started working remotely after five months, as the person doing her maternity cover left much earlier, before Ms Jackson was due to return from maternity. 

She says having a co-manager was a key factor that helped her maintain her track record even during her maternity. 

“Because we are co-managers we are both named on the fund. That is what happens with co-managers, therefore we were able to keep the track record,” Ms Jackson adds. 

Ms Jackson highlights other benefits of having co-fund managers. “You are putting a lot of responsibility and risk if you just have one manager who is everything for a fund.”