In recent years the spotlight has turned on the lack of women directors on company Boards, with David Cameron writing to FTSE 350 companies in 2011 asking them to set out targets for the proportion of female directors they will have on their Boards by 2015 and encouraging FTSE 100 businesses to achieve 25% female representation by 2015, according to the british firm Bestinvest.
The focus on Board representation has been given impetus by the work of the ‘30% Club’, a group of company Chairmen and leading asset managers, founded by Helena Morrissey, CEO of fund company Newton.Yet new research from leading private client group Bestinvest has revealed that while only around 17% of current FTSE 100 company directors are female, women are considerably more under represented when it comes to the fund management profession that invests in these businesses.
Bestinvest estimates that only 5% of retail investment funds, such as unit trusts and OEICs, are managed by female fund managers. Bestinvest’s assessment is based on analysis of the five largest Investment Management Association sectors which show that the percentage of funds run by women ranged from just 2% in the UK Equity Income sector to 7% in the UK All Companies sector. The research included funds which have a female co-manager.
The remaining three IMA sectors under scrutiny had equally low figures, estimated as 6% in the Global sector, and 5% in both the Corporate Bond and Mixed Investment 40% -80% sectors. Despite the gross under representation of women in the fund management industry, the profession nevertheless has some exceptional role models according to Bestinvest.
Using its proprietary research database of fund manager career records, Bestinvest has identified a number of women fund managers which the firm singles out for having delivered a combination of index beating returns over their long careers and consistency of performance by beating their benchmarks in the majority of individual months.