Women running the money? Rarely at hedge funds
LONDON (Reuters) - Generous salary and juicy bonus? Check. Client meetings at private members’ club? Check. Swanky Mayfair office? Check. Company maternity scheme? Maybe, we’ll get back to you.
Clare Flynn Levy, CEO of Essentia Analytics is seen in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters March 28, 2019. Clare Flynn Levy/Handout via REUTERS
In the competition for talent, the hedge fund industry still has an edge over many other areas of finance, except, it would seem, when it comes to employing women.
Women are in the minority across the financial industry when it comes to top jobs. A Reuters analysis of regulatory filings shows the proportion is especially low among British hedge funds, most of which are private and not bound by disclosure rules.
Just seven women were hired or promoted last year as investment executives at 20 of Britain’s top private hedge funds, the lowest level in at least a decade, the analysis found. They took on 82 men in that period.
Of all the places to work in hedge funds, the investment team is the most coveted. Portfolio managers or traders decide where to invest client money and are traditionally the highest-paid members of staff. Such roles are a launch pad for star managers to set up their own firms in the future, establishing the next generation of hedge funds.
In Britain, these roles are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under a category known as the ‘CF 30’ function, which also comprises senior marketing jobs.
A Reuters analysis of CF 30 filings for 76 financial firms showed hedge funds registered women at a fraction of the rate of other finance companies.
(For a graphic on British hedge funds lag on diversity of key staff, click tmsnrt.rs/2UNZpml)
For an interactive version of the graphic showing registration rates across financial firms in Britain, click here tmsnrt.rs/2HA0lb3.
Hedge funds say they struggle to find women to work as portfolio managers and point out that women are better represented in other areas, including compliance and legal counsel. These are middle-office or back-office positions, rarely involved in investment calls.
People who work for or in financial services say more female candidates would emerge for trading positions if hedge funds cast the net wider for potential candidates, and offered better maternity packages and mentorships.
“Hedge funds will all say they don’t get female applicants but are they even looking for them? Do they care? The data suggests no they don’t,” said Yasmine Chinwala of think tank New Financial.
Unlike the rest of the financial sector, where large, listed companies are now required to disclose pay gaps between men and women, and are under public pressure to have more women in senior roles, hedge funds can mostly operate below the radar.
Usually privately-owned and run by their founders, they are not the target of government drives to improve female representation in finance.
“Public scrutiny, and more specifically, mandated government-backed scrutiny … delivers results,” said Chinwala. “These sectors have shown they are not going to make significant changes themselves without a big, concerted, external push.”
INVESTING BY NUMBERS
Three of the 20 top British hedge funds covered in the Reuters analysis commented about their record of hiring women.
“We have women represented across all functional areas of the firm as well as in senior management positions which are not covered by CF 30 registrations, which represents a small proportion of our staff,” a spokeswoman for Marshall Wace said.
The firm has registered three women in the CF 30 category since 2009 compared with 40 men over the same period.
“Algebris continues to invest in women’s careers, developing talent and creating the next generation of female leaders in finance,” said a spokesman for the firm, which registered nine women and 24 men as a CF 30 since 2009.
Emso Asset Management said 35 percent of its employees were women and said it paid employees for the first 26 weeks of their 52 week maternity leave. It has registered nine women and 30 men as a CF 30 since 2009.
“Our diversity in employee base reflects the diversity of markets within which we make investments,” Chief Operating Officer Rory McGregor said in an emailed statement.
Emso was the only one of the 20 hedge funds to comment publicly on its maternity pay.
Paid leave after becoming a parent can vary widely between firms. One portfolio manager told Reuters she had to argue her case to get paid while on maternity leave. She declined to be named for fear of damaging her career.
Valerie Kosenko, at recruitment consultant Mondrian Alpha, said maternity pay was an important consideration for a lot of women looking to work in the hedge fund industry.
“I don’t think hedge funds gave a lot of thought to it at all. It’s something that hedge funds can definitely improve.”
The 10 largest U.S. hedge funds with a UK office - including Citadel and Millennium Management - registered slightly more women than their British counterparts, at nearly 13 percent, in 2018, according to the Reuters analysis.
A spokesman for Millennium declined to comment. Citadel did not respond to requests for comment.
CF 30 is an imperfect measure of diversity because firms can have a different interpretation of the FCA guidelines as to who should be registered.