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Women in the spotlight: the best female fund managers

Written by: Juliet Schooling Latter
To mark International Women's Day yesterday, we look at four female fund managers who might provide inspiration to those wanting to get into the industry.

Having read over the weekend that thousands of women were going on strike to promote International Women’s Day this year, I tried my luck with the boss before heading into work this Wednesday. Needless to say, I was sitting at my desk typing just a few hours later.

I can definitely appreciate the feminist sentiment behind the strike, but for my part, I am equally happy to highlight women’s accomplishments in other ways. One of which is drawing as much attention as I can this week to some of our best female fund managers.

While I would always advocate selecting funds on the basis of solid research and performance analysis—which are very much gender neutral in my book!—no-one can deny that there are still a lot more lad fund managers than there are ladies.

Here, we take a look at four funds that are run by female fund managers. For young females out there who might be considering a career in fund management, it’s nice to get to know a few of the faces that might provide inspiration.

Sue Round – EdenTree Amity UK

Sue is something of a pioneer on two fronts, being one of this country’s longest-running ethical fund managers, as well as one of the few female fund managers who has been in the game since the 1980s. Her fund, EdenTree Amity UK, focuses on responsible investing and she seeks opportunities primarily among Britain’s smaller and medium-sized companies that have plenty of room for growth. She has achieved this, with her fund beating the UK stock market over the past 10, 15 and 20 years.

Jenny Jones – Schroder US Mid Cap

Jenny is based in New York and heads up Schroders’ US small and mid-cap equity teams. She studied at both Yale University and New York University, before beginning her career in 1980 as a sales liaison and assistant options strategist at Drexel Burnham. She has run this fund since 2005 and it has outperformed its benchmark by more than 90% under her lead. Her investment process is underpinned by in-depth company analysis and she is renowned within her sector for her stock picking skills.

Sarah Whitley – Baillie Gifford Japan Trust

As head of Baillie Gifford’s highly regarded Japan equities team, Sarah has a busy remit. She’s run this investment trust and the team since 1991, having risen through the ranks at Baillie Gifford after she joined in 1980 straight out of Oxford University. Sarah became a partner in 1986. She and her team look for businesses with a strong competitive advantage and they have a highly disciplined approach. Japan is notoriously difficult to get right, but they have made active investing there very worthwhile for their shareholders. In sterling terms, the Baillie Gifford Japan Trust has returned 570% since 1991, versus just 136% for the Japanese stock market.

Ainslie McLennan – Henderson UK Property

Ainslie and her co-manager Marcus Langlands Pearse have run this fund since 2009. Ainslie brings more than 20 years of property industry experience to the role across both UK and European markets. Indeed, she has worked in the sector since graduating with a Bachelor of Land Economy (Hons) from Aberdeen University. She and Marcus invest in UK commercial property, which may include assets like offices, retail spaces and industrial warehouses. Their properties have some of the highest occupancy rates in the sector, which has resulted in the fund delivering a consistently good yield for investors. UK property funds had a difficult year in 2016 after the Brexit vote triggered substantial sell-offs and forced a suspension of trading, but it is worth noting that even through this period investors in this fund continued to receive good quarterly income returns.

Juliet Schooling Latter is research director at Chelsea Financial Services

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