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In SA, female representation at fund manager level has stagnated

Alpha Female report: Change accelerates but gender parity still a lifetime away.
Long way to go … at the current rate of ‘progress’, it will be another 127 years before gender parity is achieved at fund-manager level. Image: Shutterstock

Asset managers are increasingly backing diverse teams but gender parity in investment roles could still be a lifetime away.

While the percentage of women in the Citywire fund manager database has risen from 10.3% in 2016 to 11.8% in 2021, at this rate gender parity will only be reached in 127 years.

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That is a key finding of the Citywire Alpha Female 2021 report, now in its sixth year. The report tracks the progress that asset management firms are making in bringing more women into portfolio manager roles.

Fund groups may still be struggling to move the dial on the headline numbers, but the 12-month increase in the overall percentage is the biggest yet and Citywire data suggests asset managers believe diversity works. The number of mixed teams has almost doubled since the first Alpha Female Report in 2016.

Five years ago, just 6.7% of the Citywire fund manager database was made up of mixed teams. That number reached 11.8% in 2021.

The local picture

In South Africa, the rate of change is less encouraging. In 2019, 10.6% of the local fund managers in Citywire’s database were women. That rose marginally to 10.8% last year, before dropping back to 10.7% in 2021.

The percentage of assets under management run by single woman managers or women-only teams has also fallen. It was 4.6% in 2019, 4.1% in 2020 and 3.9% this year.

It is also notable that not a single large South African asset manager has even 25% female representation at fund manager level. Absa Fund Managers leads this group with 24% of its named fund managers being women.

At Ninety One, 21% of fund managers are women, while Allan Gray shows 17% representation and Coronation 11%.

The only local asset manager with more than five named fund managers to have achieved gender parity is Truffle Asset Management. In its team of six, three are women: Nicole Agar, Sophié-Marié van Garderen and Palvi Kala.

Significantly, Agar and Van Garderen are the only South Africans to make Citywire’s list of top female managers. The pair were AAA-rated at the time the research was compiled.

Diversity works

Responding to the global numbers, Dr Nisha Long, head of ESG and cross-border investment research at Citywire, said: ‘It is encouraging to see the percentage is heading in the right direction, but it’s becoming clear to me that I may well not see gender parity in my lifetime if the rate of change doesn’t improve.’

There is however a growing acceptance that diverse investment teams deliver better results, and the report shows that mixed teams have better risk-adjusted returns and lower drawdowns. And the steady decline in single-manager funds, as firms turn their backs on star culture, means that just over half of funds are now run by a single manager.

Some fund groups have made significant progress on gender – 25% of portfolio managers at the leading large firms are women – but turnover among women fund managers is still significantly higher than for men, and CEOs recognise this as a key issue in addressing the gender balance.

‘Getting more women into portfolio management jobs is one thing; keeping them there is another,’ said Dr Long.

‘There are many initiatives encouraging more women to take senior positions, but as we’ve highlighted in previous years, all these policies mean nothing if female managers are not retained.’


One area where there has been significant positive change is in the amount of money run by leading female fund managers.

As recently as 2018, the average assets run by a Citywire AAA-rated manager – the best-performing group in terms of risk-adjusted performance – was $1.3 billion for a woman and $2.2 billion for a man. In 2021, those numbers are $3.5 billion and $3.6 billion, respectively, almost neck and neck.

Among groups with more than 20 but fewer than 50 managers, Spain’s CaixaBank Asset Management is the only one nudging the 50% mark. Of the firm’s total 31 portfolio managers tracked by Citywire, 16 are male and 15 are female, bringing the firm closer to gender parity than any of its peers – the next best in any of the top three tiers is 35%.

Citywire’s full Alpha Female 2021 report, which reveals the top asset management groups by percentage of female managers and contains exclusive data on mixed teams’ performance, manager retention and turnover, and extensive analysis of the research, can be found here.

Angus Foote is director of Citywire Global and Patrick Cairns is South Africa Editor at Citywire, which provides insights and information for professional investors globally.

This article was first published on Citywire South Africa here, and republished with permission.


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What does it matter if women aren’t represented here? How many women are in the industry and how many men? Are they interested in the industry at all? And who cares? I want the best person to manage my money, male or female. Black or white.

The world owes women only one thing – respect. Not gender parity. That they must go and achieve themselves. In the field of their choice.

Make/Manage the money. Full stop.

SA just needs skills to lift it out of the ANC mess. SKILLs!
We either use all our skills or watch these skills leave the country.
Then we import skills at 10x the price tag (the ANC have already done this , wasted the tax payers money while skills sit in SA)

Dead right. I have some of my very limited money with Sygnia, but not because the very lovely Ms Wierczycka headed Sygnia previously. I put some money with them due to their funds’ performance, nothing more.

All this whining about women / black people / any other group being underrepresented in any industry or at any level has a very simple solution: let those who feel they are being left out, simply build their own businesses and employ only, say, women in their own businesses.

But, of course, this will not happen, for many reasons, amongst which a powerful economic imperative to employ the best people that you can afford, who will give you the most value for their salaries.

After seeing all the Alpha male responses to Magdas success, this does not surprise one!

There are enough oppurtnities out there for women, stop moaning. All credit to Magda, Nicole and Sophie – i wish continued success to them. Also for every one of these success stories there are the Delphine Govenders and a host of sub par managers ( who happen to be female)

Delphine Govender is the WORST.

You GUYS don’t understand Delphine. Modern day Paul Tudor Jones or Africa’s own Indiana Jones?

She runs a proper hedged strategy, uncorrelated to broader markets. Watch her over a proper cycle. None of this 3 year, 5 year, short term stories.

I know this is a 30min video but well worth watching it as Professor of Clinical Phycology Jordan B Peterson is questioned / interrogated over the under representation of females in the senior management of companies in Europe.

1) People with specific traits such as being highly disagreeable; single goal orientated and idealist tend to be Business Managers/CEOs
2) The pay gap has 18 components to it, however the idea the men get higher wages simply because they are men and that the work place is controlled by men is a blatant lie. There are various positions where females tend to get higher wages and also dominate those sectors it largely depends on the job type and the demand for the job.
3) The market dictates which jobs are in the highest demand, the market is controlled by enlarge by woman who spend or make the decision of spending for approximately 80% of all purchases.
4) Countries who have tried to force or socially engineer to try reach parity of woman in the workplace have by enlarge failed to achieve the equality of outcome despite all the resources being thrown at it, Engineers tend to be more interested in “Things” which is a strong male trait whilst Nursing is a more “people” orientated task which is a strong woman trait.
5) We do need more woman in leadership positions but this will only come about with longer lasting effect when we start with “Equality of Opportunity” as appose to “Equality of Outcome”

Indeed a great find, videos on Dr Jordan B Peterson. Other videos cover various thought provoking & inspirational topics.

Of-course by ‘diversity’ we only mean the shallow and meaningless kind such as race and gender. Does diversity of the mind not matter the most – you know the part of the body that actually does the analysis, investment and execution?

And if you are going for the shallow check box approach why not those with disabilities or members of the LGBTQ community? Now you have 4 ‘diversity’ groups. Which one takes preference and why?

It just boggles my mind that the diversity cheerleaders never even mention the one that matters most – the mind.

Should stupid people have equal representation??

The correct answer is no.

Where does the GEPF score here? If that is the largest fund in the country then fix that one first.

How many women work as bricklayers, miners, car mechanics and refuse collectors? Why only complain with regard to high paying jobs like fund managers, CEO’s, judges and cabinet ministers? I don’t mind if women earn the SAME as men if they do the SAME work.

Are women the same as men? No, that’s why they have their own toilets/change rooms/races/competitions etc.

Some one was paid to work out that it would take 127 years to reach an equal level.

What a waste of time and money.

It was probably a woman that was paid.

Well you complain when they are placed in those positions too. So make up your mind.

There is a huge push for women in mining and construction. You are just being ignorant.

Never complained nor will I ever. You are obviously new here.

The problem is they don’t last very long in construction. The novelty of working themselves up to the bosses penthouse office wears off very quickly once they get handed there shovel on the first day – like everyone else.
It’s funny how it’s always only the woman that complain about how unfair it is to work yr way up and earn yr post. I’ve never had a male complain to me in my office about that. Never.
Yet after about 3 months just about every female our company has hired on the front line has come into my office and given the ” if I don’t get that promotion soon I’m going to leave” song and dance… Yet her male colleagues have no problem putting in the hours for up to 3.. 5 years before they start progressing up.

It’s almost as thu the female employees have a sence of entitlement thats totally detached from reality compared to thier male counter parts.
I often wonder why is it like that..

Hey bloem are y u excited that R350 u getting every month might soon be upped to R650…… Hope u gonna invest that difference.

Firstly, did anybody ever ask women whether they actually want to be fund managers? It is well known that, for instance, the attrition rate amongst female CA candidates are very high, because, having been exposed to the industry, they just don’t want to audit anymore. It’s not because men don’t want them to be CA’s. They just don’t like the job, the hours, the stress, or whatever other reason puts them off becoming an auditor. Should one then, in order to get the numbers right, force them to remain in auditing? Secondly, why is it always about the top job? What do the rest of the levels look like? If you want to throw figures around, at least do a proper analysis, instead of this wishy washy look at information that only suits the argument. Thirdly, why are we never given clear cut evidence of what measures men take to ensure that women aren’t promoted, or kept out of a job? And it must be something else than the system of meritocracy that is discriminatory in any case (there is only one CEO, so even if all other employees are men, they have all been discriminated against, because they’re not the CEO – where is the outrage about that?). Fourthly, why is it only inequality under specific circumstances, such as when the boss is not a woman. Somehow it never matters when army conscription is 100% male, ditch diggers are 100% male and babies are 100% carried by women? Fifthly… well, the list goes on and on. Bottom line is, when a woman is not promoted just because she is a woman, even though she is capable and deserves the promotion on merit, then surely it’s wrong. Otherwise, don’t make something out of nothing. And by the way, why is this article written by two males?

Didn’t you know that there is a gigantic male conspiracy to keep everybody except pale males out of boardrooms? Can I send you the invitation to the next meeting of the Maleluminati, which is held every full moon at a secret venue, where we run around, clad in our robes, vowing to exclude all and any females from leadership positions?

Wtf!? Where u see males???
I see 2 simps only.

Is it just me or is the content on Moneyweb increasingly falling below previous standards. It seems as though many articles are infected with equality bs or some other political doctrine. I understand that Moneyweb is a business and that clicks and traffic is important, but the balance has been lost in my opinion.

I cancelled my subscription ages ago. Way too many clickbait articles.

Oh wow. He is back. Thought the kiddies were keeping you busy now that the holidays are over.

There is a terrible and unjustifiable inequality and injustice taking place in my backyard. I have thought about having some discussions about putting together a commission of inquiry to correct that intolerable and shameful situation. I even came up with a slogan – Not In My Backyard!

When I leave the door of the turkey coop open, then after an hour there will be 30 finches and only three turkeys in the coop. I started an organization for the equality of turkeys and I also requested funds from the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.

Then, to top it all off, my unsophisticated and uncultured neighbor suggested I should simply shoot the finches. People are so insensitive to the plight of downtrodden and victimized turkeys.

From the fact that women are better than men, it follows that it takes three men to do the work of one woman. Considering the current prevalence of women, it is clear that women are totally over-represented in the fund management industry. We need more men.

If we demand equality in numbers we are actually insulting women by suggesting that the female cognitive ability and skills are equal to those of men.

Exactly the ratio must be 75/25. Then equal output would be achieved.

All that matters is alpha, not male or female.

End of comments.





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