Ratio of Female Fund Managers Unchanged Since 2008

Shanny Basar

Only one in five funds has at least one manager who is female and this ratio did not improve between 2008 and 2015 according to a study from Morningstar, although the investment research provider said women are making inroads in passive management, funds of funds, and team-managed funds.

Morningstar published its first in-depth study of fund managers by gender in 2015 and found that only 9.4% of fund managers in  the US were women. At the time Laura Lutton, director of manager research, North America, for Morningstar Research Services, wrote that the share of female fund mangers would rise as the number of women controlling wealth increased. However, this has not happened according to a new study by Lutton and quantitative analyst Madison Sargis.

“They report that 10% of US fund managers are women,” said Morningstar. “Moreover, they dug back almost a decade and found that the numbers have barely budged since 2008.”

Don Phillips, managing director with Morningstar, continued that the 2015 study found that the small number of funds run by women performed as well as those run by men. He added: “More significantly, the study found that funds run by teams including both men and women had performed better than funds run by solely men or women.”

Lutton and Sargis analysed 26,340 managers of funds registered in 56 countries which they said made their study the most comprehensive of its kind. They determined the gender of 15,996 managers using information from asset managers and the remainder by using an algorithm that assigns the probability of being a woman based on local census data.

Across 56 countries, only one in five funds has at least one manager who is a woman and this ratio did not improve between 2008 and 2015. Sargis said: “I expected women to be underrepresented, but the lack of improvement was discouraging.”

In the US, just 10% of US fund managers are women compared to Singapore which has the highest proportion at 30%. “Compare that to the percentage of US lawyers who are women (36%) or doctors (33%) – professions that require similar levels of education – and it is clear that the fund industry is drawing from a relatively talent pool,” added Morningstar.

However women were more likely to progress at larger fund managers. The study found that while only 7.7% of equity fund managers were female, that was exceeded by American Funds, Franklin Templeton, T Rowe Price. In addition, Fidelity Investments and Vanguard had the highest share of female equity fund managers at 13.8%.

The study also found that women were progressing in managing passive funds and fund of funds and were more likely to be part of a team managing a fund.

Sargis and Lutton said: “The odds of a woman managing a passive fund over an active fund in the same asset class is 1.36:1. Our analysis cannot tease out whether women are being disproportionately offered passive management roles or if  they are expressing a preference for them.”

They suggested one possibility may be that it is easier for women to earn a role at a newly launched passive fund than replace the existing manager of an established fund.

Sargis and Lutton added that although the share of female fund managers remains low, the bright spots are particularly promising.

“Women have better odds of running funds in areas of the industry that are growing the most: passive, funds of funds, and team-managed funds,” said Sargis and Lutton. “If these trends hold, we can expect to see a meaningful  increase in the representation of women among fund managers.”

Phillips continued that asset management lags many other industries in advancing women into leadership but its record on racial integration is almost certainly worse.

“Ultimately the money management industry needs to reflect more fully the clientele it serves,” Phillips added. “The longer it takes to get there, the longer it will be until this profession realises its full potential”

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