This is a Man’s world? Steep Decline in Number of Female Fund Managers

Female portfolio managers now account for less than 7 per cent of the 7,293 money managers at US mutual fund companies, down from just over 10 per cent in 2009. Despite numerous efforts to try and bring more women into top slots at asset management companies, the number of female portfolio managers heading fund companies in America has declined every year for the past six years. The release of these statistics prompted condemnation from diversity campaigners who believe that investors are being harmed by the huge gender gap between male and female managers.

“This bothers me because I truly believe portfolio management is a great choice of career for women. Fund companies and their clients are losing out,” stated Helena Morrissey, a renowned activist for gender equality in the labor force and current head of BNY Mellon subsidiary Newton.

Other diversity campaigners believe that the gender gap is a significant issue for fund companies because it increases biases in how the fund companies make decisions. Evidence suggests significant gender gaps can lead to repeated investment mistakes — a concern exacerbated for many after the recent financial crisis.

Mr. Astmann stated: “It is almost indisputable that having diversity of thought within any business — particularly when you are [trading securities] or putting together a portfolio — is critical to ensuring you are aware of any biases.”

Anne Richards, chief investment officer of Aberdeen, stated: “There are sound business reasons for correcting this. Mixed teams make better-reasoned decisions and more easily avoid groupthink.”

Some experts say that the number of female portfolio managers has fallen because more women have been put off by the stained image of the financial services sector than men. Ms Richards added: “The reputational hit that financial services took in the crash is more likely to have caused some women to throw in the towel. On average, women appear to place more importance on feeling that their job has a clear value to society.”

The gender gap in fund companies is not limited to the United States. Figures released last year by Tilney Bestinvest found that only 7 per cent of UK retail investment funds are managed or co-managed by female fund managers. Jason Hollands, Tilney Bestinvest’s managing director, stated: “What is clearly important for the long-term health of the industry is that it attracts people from the widest pool of talent and potential.”

When will it be a woman’s world?

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