New charter targets diversity problem in asset management

Helen Price
Stewardship Manager
2nd August 2021

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Asset management has a diversity problem that is not going away. Just consider the numbers.

  • Firms managed by women or ethnic minorities accounted for just 1.3% of global assets under management in 20171
  • Fewer than 1 in 10 management roles in finance are held by black, Asian or minority ethnic people2
  • Women directors in the financial sector earn 66% less than their male counterparts – the worst gender pay gap of any sector3
  • Women make up just 17% of the FCA-approved workforce – the figure has barely changed since 20054

Does it matter?

Diversity matters for two fundamental reasons. Firstly, of course, it is an ethical issue – major diversity problems can often reflect structural prejudices.

But it is a talent issue too. Meritocratic societies tend to perform better – and meritocratic companies and investors are no different. Research published by McKinsey & Co in 2019 found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.5 When it came to ethnic diversity, the equivalent figure was 36%.

How will the Charter help??

The Asset Owner Diversity Charter commits its signatories to holding asset managers to account on diversity and inclusion. The charter is already backed by 17 signatories representing £1.08 trillion in assets under management/consultancy.

The Charter commits signatories to three principal actions:

  1. Include diversity & inclusion in manager selection
  2. Monitor selected managers for D&I on an ongoing basis
  3. Lead and collaborate in this area to encourage broader industry change

Signatories will use a new annual questionnaire for ongoing manager monitoring to deliver standardisation and greater transparency. The charter questionnaire equips signatories to hold firms to account and goes beyond asking about the strategic approach, by identifying how managers look at diversity and inclusion across five key areas:

  1. Industry perception
  2. recruitment
  3. Culture
  4. Promotion
  5. Leadership

How is Brunel Pension Partnership involved?

Brunel has led the development of the Charter. In coordination with my role as Stewardship Manager at Brunel, I am also co-Chair of the Asset Owner Diversity Working Group. The group also includes representatives from  Nest, RPMI Railpen, West Midlands Pension Fund, Lothian Pension Fund, and London CIV.

Consider the potential…

The Charter offers an opportunity not only to identify fund managers with a lot of work to do in this area, but to celebrate those that have already made significant progress.

The standardisation delivered through the charter questionnaire will provide a better understanding of each firm’s approach and strategy to progressing diversity and inclusion and equip signatories to hold firms to account for ongoing progress.

The world’s top ten fund managers are responsible for an estimated £40 trillion. If they change their approach, the impact globally could be enormous

The Charter also has strong support from the UK government, notably Guy Opperman, pensions & financial inclusion minister, and from major UK and global investment consultants, such as Aon and Mercer.

Further support has been provided by CAMRADATA, , who will be offering free access to asset managers for the purposes of completing the D&I questionnaire, ensuring there are no barriers to the collection of data or access by investors.

To learn more about the charter and become a signatory, go to: www.diversityproject.com/assetownerdiversitycharter

 

Please direct any media inquiries to Alex Monro, Head of Communications: [email protected]

 

Sources:

1 https://kf-site-production.s3.amazonaws.com/media_elements/files/000/000/281/original/2019_KF_DIVERSITY_REPORT-FINAL.pdf
2 https://www.randstad.co.uk/s3fs-media/uk/public/2019-10/fs-salary-survey-paying-attention-2018.pdf
3 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-women-pay-idUSKCN2AT10K
4 https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/research/research-note-gender-diversity-in-uk-financial-services.pdf
5 https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters


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