Citywire Top 20 Female Fund Managers in the US


the positive conversation and trends, change will take time to implement. Another factor that may be a reason for women portfolio managers running less money is that they are more likely to break their track record than men as a result of taking time away from work to have a child. Investors, wary of management turnover, may vote with their money. It was a point made by Martin Gilbert, chairman of Aberdeen Standard Investments, in a July interview with Citywire. ‘It [greater female representation] is going to be glacial because clients want 0% change and that’s the issue,’ he said. Clarke, Bush and Snider agreed that investor desire for consistency could be a cause, but said it was unlikely to be a deciding factor. ‘It is true that we’d like to see stability in leadership teams on funds, but we also understand that if a firm is doing a good job of developing talent, you’re always kind of watching who they’re bringing along,’ Clarke said. ‘We’d like to see those transitions planned carefully.’ According to Snider, this issue can be avoided with good succession planning. ‘If your slate actually includes diverse candidates as people that you’re trying to at least consider or train for or get

At Mercer, cognitive diversity indicates varied ways of thinking, but identity diversity characterizes the different life experiences people have as a result of their race, gender or sexual orientation, and how that impacts decision-making. ‘We’ve always looked at cognitive diversity, which is how you get together groups of people who think differently, challenge each other, and hopefully will come up with a better outcome as a result of that,’ Clarke said. ‘Over the last two or three years, we’ve been talking much more specifically about areas such as gender, nationality, ethnicity and sexuality. The two are obviously connected because you could have people with different identities who probably have different backgrounds and experiences. They could end up with more cognitive diversity,’ she added. Sarah Bush, who was recently named head of North America manager research at Morningstar, said the firm has just begun looking at how to incorporate gender diversity into its process. ‘I think we are in the early stages of trying to figure out what the best way is to measure and to identify best practices there,’ she said. ‘I can tell you, having recently been sitting in the seat of the analysts, it is something that we look to understand, but it’s a question of how you measure it,’ she explained. ‘It may be a little bit easier with gender diversity, but as you start to get into different types of diversity, it can be also something where you ask, do you have comparable apples-to-apples statistics?’ WHAT’S HOLDING WOMEN BACK? According to Snider, the best way to implement change in the industry is to start at the beginning. ‘There’s a pipeline issue, which means asking if we have enough women and people who are from diverse backgrounds who look at finance or wealth management and asset management as a career they really feel passionate about and they want to go into in the future,’ she said. ‘That change has to start right at the recruitment end,’ Clarke said. All three gatekeepers agreed that despite




This is the third time we have conducted this piece of research, having first run the numbers at the end of 2016 and then again in 2018. The methodology has remained unchanged, as has one third of the list, with seven managers making the grade this year also in the top 20 in 2018. These seven managers are Tiffany Hsiao, Katherine Renfrew, Anupam Damani, Amy Zhang, Eileen Riley, Nicole Kornitzer and Natalie Trevithick. The latter two managers also appeared in the first iteration of this research so have featured in all three top 20s. The fact there are seven of the same names in the 2019 and 2018 lists undoubtedly speaks to these investors’ skills and consistency, but it also reflects the fact that the strategies that worked three years ago – for example, long risk, growth equities and corporate bonds – are still working today. The period has rolled forward a year and the investment environment is broadly unchanged. In short, the same strategies, positioned the same way, are still delivering in 2019 as they were in the three years to 2018. As boring as that is, it speaks to the wider climate and the fact we are still in this rising-market environment. Lower for longer looks like it might be lower forever as central banks’ taps come back on, and stay on. As a result, the same asset classes are still being supported. It is not too surprising to see quite a few small-cap managers on this list given this is an area that remains a happy hunting ground for active managers, with outperformance rates much higher than in large-cap categories, another dynamic that has not changed in the last five years. Emerging market debt may be an exception to this trend of supported strategies, with the Nuveen pair of Renfrew and Damani making the list in 2018 and 2019, despite a more mixed overall environment for this category over the last five years. It is also impressive to see Matthews Asia’s Tiffany Hsiao sitting in second on this list and at the top of 2018’s, having delivered a very similar total return (41.37% versus 46.31%) this time around, despite the backdrop of the ongoing trade war. Yes, China small caps may be less affected than the BATs, but they won’t be immune to it. The trade war and its impact cannot be understated and it has certainly affected growth prospects, more so in China than in the US. This year’s number one, Pei Chen, is a new entrant to the list. To find out more about her, turn to Manager Profile on page 22.

ready for better roles, that’s your opportunity,’ she said. They also agreed that they can push asset managers to make these changes by incorporating diversity into their selection processes. ‘I don’t mean to brag about Mercer, but we are one of the biggest consultants in the world, and unless we ask these questions, nobody is going to ask about it,’ Clarke said. Bush added: ‘Anytime you start to ask those questions consistently, and people know that we’re watching it, and people understand that it’s an important point, I think that that does gradually influence behavior.’

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