Gender a real asset in fund management – Hasler

As the world celebrates International Women’s’ Day tomorrow  there are calls for greater gender diversity in financial services and asset management.

Private investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown said while diversity has improved in fund management, it still has far to go. The company said that in the world of asset management, a fund management team will benefit from having a range of individuals.

Victoria Hasler, Head of Fund Research, Hargreaves Lansdown: explained: “Diversity is a popular topic in the fund management industry today. However, whilst great strides have been made over the last few decades, it is fair to say that progress is slower than many had hoped, and the industry remains dominated by men. Fund managers are quick to diversify their portfolios, a fundamental concept in investment management. Sadly, they seem less keen, or perhaps less able, to diversify their workforces. Why does this matter? We know that a well-diversified portfolio benefits from investments in different parts of the markets – think equities and bonds – as well as different geographies and sectors of the economy. “

She added: “In much the same way, a fund management team will benefit from having a range of individuals who will think in different ways and bring different views and challenges to discussions. This isn’t a competition of men vs women, rather we strongly believe that having a team made up of people from different backgrounds – not just gender, but ethnicity, education and religion – will lead to a much wider range of views and ultimately result in better decisions.”

Haslet highlighted three female fund managers that feature on the Wealth Shortlist – funds selected by our analysts that we think have the greatest performance potential.

The first was Charlotte Yonge, at Troy Trojan.

“Charlotte Yonge and Sebastian Lyon run this fund, which takes a total return approach, meaning that rather than trying to keep up with every sharp move up in the market, it aims to grow investors’ money steadily over time, while limiting losses when markets fall,” she explained. “The process looks to reduce volatility compared to the stock market – it is designed to smooth the bumps. It does this through investing in a mix of shares, bonds, gold and cash.

“As a result, we think it could form the foundation of a broad investment portfolio, bring some stability to a more adventurous portfolio, or provide some long-term growth potential to a more conservative portfolio. While the fund contains a diverse range of investments, it is concentrated and includes smaller companies, which is a higher-risk approach.”

Second was Grace Le, at Artemis Corporate Bond

Hasler explained: “Grace Le is a fund manager on the Artemis fixed income team and co-manages this fund alongside veteran corporate bond investor Stephen Snowden. The fund aims to generate a combination of income and growth over the long-term and could form part of a diversified bond portfolio or diversify an equity-focused portfolio. The fund could be more volatile than some other bond funds but is a good choice as part of a portfolio invested for the long term. The fund may also invest in derivatives and high yield bonds which can add risk. Some of the bonds may be more illiquid than others, which could make them more difficult to sell.

Finally Hasler single out Audrey Ryan, at Aegon Ethical Equity.

“Audrey Ryan is a highly experienced fund manager, and passionate about ethical investing. This fund applies an exclusions-based approach, avoiding companies such as tobacco and alcohol producers. Such an approach does put constraints on an investment manager, but Ms Ryan is one of the few managers who has handled such constraints well over the long term. This fund could be a good addition to the UK section of an ethical portfolio, designed to limit or exclude investments in industries some find immoral. It could also be used by investors who want to add an ethical element to their broader investment portfolio. Ethics are personal though, so make sure you’re happy with the fund’s approach before investing. The fund also invests in smaller companies, which adds risk.”