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Swiss female fund managers on how to fix gender diversity gap

Swiss female fund managers on how to fix gender diversity gap

Only five percent of fund managers in Switzerland are women, according to the Citywire Alpha Female report released earlier this year.

In fact, the study found that just 7% of the funds sold to the public around the world are run by a woman.

While there is a collective push to hire women among fund management firms, there is a shortfall in the number of skilled female fund managers who make it through.

Citywire Switzerland has spoken to women fund managers from leading Swiss groups to hear about their experience of the male-dominant world of asset management.

Bertille Knuckey, Sycomore AM

Head of sustainable and responsible investment

Funds: Sycomore Fund SICAV Happy At Work RC EUR C, Sycomore Selection Responsable RP

Unfortunately I’m not that surprised by the outcome of Citywire's study. Female fund managers are rare and very few asset managers tackle the gender balance issue.

As part of our continuous dialogue with investee companies, we talked to AXA a few weeks ago. In 2009 53% of their staff was female but at the top only 9% was.

In 2015 they put in place a dedicated governance structure for diversity issues, mentoring programmes, more flexible working conditions and now they have 21% of women in top management. That’s one of the criteria we look at when analysing a company.

Junwei Hafner-Cai, RobecoSAM

Fund: RobecoSAM Global Gender Equality Impact Equities Strategy

Women are still underrepresented in all sectors, especially in management roles and there is still a gender pay gap in all industries.

Companies should do more to advance female talents and to bring women up the management pipeline. There are many areas that companies can work on to improve the gender gap.

Ensuring equal remuneration and offering work-life balance such as options for flexible working and accommodation to children or elderly care because these issues have a disproportionate influence on the likelihood or ability of women to remain in the workforce. 

Gender diversity should also lead to access to a bigger talent pool, a reputation as a more attractive employer for skilled people and more motivated employees. And now there’s some strong evidence to back this logic up. 

Gender diversity also enhances the decision-making process and the capacity to innovate as you have a diversity of opinion, experiences and not simply group thinking.

Numerous  studies have shown that gender diversity correlates positively with corporate performance in terms of profits, returns and risk management and ultimately share prices. 

Eleanor Taylor Jolidon, UBP

Funds: UBAM (CH) Swiss Small and Mid Cap Equity A
UBAM Swiss Small and Mid Cap Equity AC EUR Cap EUR
UBAM Swiss Equity AC CHF

'It is a bit of a male world and I am sure the talent is there, I wouldn’t say I’ve come across sexism or anything at all, no more so than anywhere else in the world, and there’s no ‘you can’t do it because you a woman’ attitude in Switzerland.

Switzerland until very recently has not necessarily been a particularly easy environment for women to carry out jobs which demand quite long working hours because as you know we are very slow to have any kind of maternity leave.

There is really little and very expensive childcare. It’s tough, if you want to do it you have to be quite organised.

That may have meant that people at my advanced age were not getting involved quite as easily or just thought "I can’t do it". Even if you wanted to do it, you really had to want to do it.

I think that’s probably changing you can probably see a little bit of an improvement on these numbers.

I think it’s moving in the right direction but the situation of Switzerland having been perhaps a little bit slow to wake up to the fact that you can be a mother and work may have delayed the process which may have happened more easily in other countries.'

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