CFA Institute Study Points to Way Forward for Women in Finance

Beating the gender diversity bottleneck in investment management.

Dubai (UAE), September 18, 2016: CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, has completed the largest survey of investment management professionals on the subject of gender diversity to date. The study finds that while women continue to make progress within the industry, much more needs to be done to ease the global bottleneck that is preventing their full and equitable advancement within the profession.

In the report, Gender Diversity in Investment Management, CFA Institute found that while women continue to be underrepresented at every level and in every function of investment management this disparity could be addressed by focusing on three key areas:

  • Providing young women with early exposure to the investment industry in their college years and early career
  • Emphasizing to all investors the positive impact that gender diversity can have on investment performance
  • Working to bridge the work-life balance gap that disproportionately affects women.

“At CFA Institute, we believe that the time to end the woeful underrepresentation of women within the investment management industry is now,” said Paul Smith, CFA, president and CEO of CFA Institute. “As the industry’s only global standard setter in ethics and best practices, we are asking all of our members and our industry partners to join us in addressing the chronic issue of gender disparity in the investment management industry.”

Gender Diversity Increasing in Importance for Investment Managers and Their Clients

While portfolio performance is often seen as the ultimate criteria in investment management, the research indicates that a growing number of investment management professionals and investors – both individual and institutional – are placing increasing importance on gender diversity. In fact, the study found that 54 percent of individual investors said that they could expect better investment performance from or would prefer to work with a team of gender diverse investment professionals. A total of 55 percent of institutional investors held the same view.

While these numbers are encouraging, the fact remains that almost half of the survey respondents do not believe that gender diversity is a significant issue in investment management. This is one of the likeliest reasons why women are so underrepresented at every level of the financial profession. Compared with their male counterparts, the top female investment professionals only hold 9.8 percent of chief executive officer roles, 10.2 percent of chief investment officer roles, 11 percent of chief financial officer roles, 14.9 percent of portfolio managers, 15.1 percent of investment consultants and 17.3 percent of personal financial advisors or planners. Women are also more likely than men to have jobs that support or service those in investment management (22 percent for women versus 16 percent for men).

The gender gap in the investment management profession can also be explained by the divide that happens in the homes of investment industry professionals. 65.9 percent of women reported that they were responsible for 50 percent or more of family care, versus 22.4 percent of men. The survey results did point to one bright spot – while the investment industry is renowned for being demanding, working flexibility is common.

“It’s unacceptable that a young woman today might feel that the doors of opportunity in the investment management profession are shut to her simply based on her gender,” said Smith. “In 2016, this is something our industry cannot and should not tolerate. The results of this study and the changes it suggests cannot be more clear: together, we must work to create change now. A focused effort to raise awareness of the benefits of gender diversity in investment management among women and investors alike will allow us to address both the supply and demand sides of the issue.”

These findings draw from the work CFA Institute completed in consultation with finance scholars Renee Adams, Brad Barber, and Terrance Odean, drawing upon a CFA Institute membership survey of more than 5,000 of its members. The research is published today in conjunction with CFA Institute Research Foundation at the CFA Institute Alpha and Gender Diversity: The Competitive Edge conference in Boston, USA. For more information, visit www.cfainstitute.org/WIM.

About the survey

The survey was undertaken in May 2016. 5,259 investment professionals completed the survey: 1,176 from EMEA, including 199 from the UK; 3,334 from the Americas and 749 from APAC

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