PA OPINION: Time for wealth managers to break up the boys club

Added 14th October 2016

By the end of this year, three of the five richest economies in the world could be led by women, Theresa May, Angela Merkel and Hillary Clinton. Financial services by comparison remains a boys club.

PA OPINION: Time for wealth managers to break up the boys club

The industry has itself acknowledge this. On Tuesday the FCA published its targets for the Women in Finance Charter, which it signed in June. It aims to “reflect the society that we serve” by ensuring that half of its senior staff are women by 2025.

Fund groups are getting involved too with Jupiter, Old Mutual, L&G, Newton and EdenTree among those who have committed this week to vote against board appointments at companies which do not have enough female executives.

Behind the initiative is 30% Club, a campaign working to get 30% of all board seats at FTSE 350 companies filled by women by 2020.

Last month, EdenTree’s Sue Round expressed frustration with the state of play when reflecting on her long career in fund management.

“I never felt I was coming into a completely male-dominated industry, until later on when I discovered that all the people who worked on the operational side were men,” she said.

"Wealth managers must be encouraged to think carefully of how they can address any obvious imbalances on their boards"

What’s the next step? With an apparent willingness for fund managers to embrace ESG investing, could filters now be extended to exclude investing in listed companies that appear to not be taking discrimination seriously?

And what about the asset managers themselves – what are they doing to ensure their boards are more representative of society at large?  

As a white, middle class(ish) man, discrimination is not something I have had to deal with – though I have sometimes felt unsettled by the abundance of public school-educated chaps in financial services, especially in senior management roles.

Still, having attended countless industry events – particularly among wealth managers – it is clear the male/female ratio still swings alarmingly towards the former.

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Gary Shepherd

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Portfolio Adviser

Gary joined Last Word Media in 2009, becoming editor of Portfolio Adviser a year later. Previously, he worked at Incisive Media with roles across its Professional Adviser, Investment Week, Bloomberg Money and Mortgage Solutions titles. Gary has been shortlisted for various awards, winning Headline Money Investment Writer of the Year in 2010.

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