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Newton’s Morrissey: We need more female fund managers

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24/09/2014
The fund management industry must address the issue of lack of female representation among fund managers, according to Helena Morrissey, chief executive of Newton Investment Management.
Newton’s Morrissey: We need more female fund managers

Speaking today at a Fund Management Summit organised by YourMoney.com’s sister publication Investment Week, Morrissey said the industry as a whole needs to tackle the problem, and men must also join the debate to encourage more women to join the ranks of fund managers.

She pointed to the results of a recent survey conducted by Bestinvest, which showed just 7 per cent of all fund managers in the UK are women on average, and even less in some sectors: for example, just 4 per cent of UK Equity Income managers are female.

“I do think we have a problem,” the CEO said. “We need to attract more women into the industry and make the case that it is a good career for women.”

Morrissey (pictured) is a dedicated campaigner for women’s initiatives, and in 2010 she founded the 30 per cent Club, with the initial aim to achieve 30 per cent female representation on the boards of FTSE 100 companies by 2015.

Although Morrissey is against positive discrimination in the workplace, she said having more female fund managers will benefit the industry through “cognitive diversity and biological differences in behaviour”, helping to break down the “fund management in-crowd”.

Moreover, in terms of performance, male and female fund managers are at least equal, she added, pointing to various studies conducted over the years.

One such study showed female hedge fund managers delivered 6 per cent on average between January 2007 and June 2013, while the wider HFRX index was down 1.1 per cent over the period, suggesting women may be better at coping with periods of stress, such as the financial crisis in 2008.

“Female fund managers are just as good as men, but there is a difference in how they perform in stress environments,” Morrissey said. “Women do tend to outperform in falling markets, since their behaviour is not affected by as much testosterone as men.”

However, despite her push to increase female participation in the industry, the CEO admitted that even her own company has few women in managerial roles, and a relatively small proportion of Newton’s fund managers are female.

“We have six people on the board at Newton and I am the only woman,” she said. “We just hired two non-executive directors, and I am pleased to say they are both female.”

In response to her presentation, Edward Bonham Carter, vice chairman of Jupiter Fund Management, said the key concern is retaining female talent.

“The challenge is how to keep very senior female staff members long term, as women are more likely than men to see more to life than looking at stock prices,” he said.

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