Pensions Push For Diversity In Funds Industy

Shanny Basar

Maike Currie, investment director at Fidelity, said pension funds are asking fund managers about diversity within their own firms before awarding mandates.

Currie spoke on a panel about diversity in the fund management industry at the Lipper Fund Selector Forum in London yesterday.

Currie said: “Many request for proposals now ask us about diversity with questions such as how we recruit and whether there is a dominant personality. US pension funds are leading the charge but there is also good work in Australia, the Netherlands and the UK.”

She continued that Fidelity has been working to change the culture in capital markets which is necessary to both retain staff and to recruit a diverse workforce which increases innovation and creativity.

“Diversity is also important because group think is the biggest risk in investment,” she added. “What I have learnt from every company crisis such as Volkswagen and Carillion is that the board members all looked and thought the same.”

Currie added that diversity is integrated in the Fidelity’s investment process as part of the environmental, social and governance considerations. She works with the ESG team to assess quantitative issues such as the composition of a board but they also review qualitative issues such as culture.

Bev Shah, founder and chief executive of City Hive, a network looking to create a positive and inclusive culture in asset management also spoke on the panel.

She said: “We need to change the workplace so that it is better for everybody which will increase productivity and attract talent. We do not make anything and all we have is human capital, so we need to sweat the assets ”

She was hopeful that the industry is in a “positive sweet spot” with more focus on diversity following protests such as the #metoo movement.

“It will be noticed if nothing changes. Diversity cannot be ignored,” Shah said.

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