The Diversity Project has launched Pathway Programme, a new cross-industry initiative designed to give talented women the best opportunities to progress and succeed as portfolio managers.

Spearheaded by Helena Morrissey, chair of the Diversity Project, and backed by 34 member firms, this is the first female career development programme that has been shaped by the industry for the industry with a bespoke curriculum tailored to participants that will complement the CFA and on-the-job training, the firm announced.

The initiative seeks to drive real change by unlocking female talent in order to address the absence of women in money-managing roles, with 88% positions currently occupied by men, it added.

For 2023, Pathway’s debut year, 33 firms have collectively selected 60 women interested in pursuing a career in portfolio management to participate. Collectively, they have on average seven years of experience; 78% are in an investment-related role while 22% work in other areas including sales and trading or change management.

Baroness Helena Moressey

Helena Morrissey at Diversity Project

There will be interactive sessions on technical and behavioural skills and networking opportunities with likeminded female peers, senior female fund managers and industry leaders, the Project noted.

Morrissey said: When I began my fund management career as a graduate trainee over three decades ago, I was blissfully ignorant about its reputation as a white, male, middle-class industry. Whilst the situation has thankfully improved since then, women are still woefully underrepresented in fund manager roles, which we are on a mission to change.”

She said the programme has the potential to be “revolutionary for the asset management industry”.

“Not only will it unlock hidden talent from across the industry and provide today’s emerging female portfolio managers with the skills and confidence they need to succeed, it will also create a cohort of female portfolio managers who will navigate their careers together and provide an example for generations to follow,” she noted.

Joanna Munro, chief executive officer of HSBC Alternatives, said: “From my own discussions with our participants, I know what a difference this programme is going to make for women in our industry. They may be a fund manager assistant who couldn’t see how to navigate to a portfolio management role or a great talent who missed out on university because of family circumstances. The [Pathway Programme] really is creating opportunities that simply haven’t existed for these women before.”

DEI remains a low priority for many pension trustee boards

New Mallowstreet research commissioned by Cardano, the pensions advisory and investment management specialist, has revealed that professional trustee firms are playing a critical ‘catalysing’ role improving diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) in UK pension scheme boards.

The research, which surveyed over 100 pension trustees, showed that on the whole pension trustee boards remain overwhelmingly male, over the age of 45, and with a tertiary education.

It also showed that 75% of respondents sit on boards where over 60% of members are male, while two in five sit on boards where half the board are 46-60 years old.

On top of this, 70% say that four out of every five board members have tertiary education (e.g. university).

In contrast to traditional pension scheme boards, the research found that professional trustee firms appear generally more diverse, particularly in terms of age and gender.

Over a third of professional trustee firms (36%) reported that more than 40% of their trustees are female. A quarter of schemes with professional trustees said the same, highlighting that professional trustees are helping the schemes they work with increase diverse representation.

Professional trustee firms also have better age diversity than scheme boards, with one in five reporting that over 40% of board members are below the age of 45.

Darren Redmayne, CEO of Cardano Advisory, said: “Professional trustee firms are playing a valuable role in helping the industry progress on DEI issues. As The Pensions Regulator works through its DEI action plan this year, we believe trustees are a key stakeholder group for the industry to partner with to further improve DEI on pension scheme boards.”

Joanne Segars, chair of the board of trustees at NOW: Pensions, said: “The pension industry is in a very different place to where it was when I first joined 30 years ago. The industry has seen an increasing number of women entering the profession, which is fantastic, but we still have some way to go regarding gender, age, ethnicity and socio-economic background.”

To read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine click here