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Secret female fund manager: ‘The male ego is easily hurt’

Having worked in and alongside fund management for many years, our columnist offers her view on how the situation has, and hasn’t, changed in recent years.

Secret female fund manager: ‘The male ego is easily hurt’

In response to the 2020 Alpha Female report, Citywire spoke to a fund manager, who is working on a new venture about her experience in the industry. She asked to do so under the cover of anonymity.

I left the asset management industry in 2019 to pursue another opportunity, having spent many years at a French company. The reality is the company that I was at had a number of female fund managers leave during a period, but, in fairness, also a number of men. That can just be the culture or the pressure of the job.

I think that France is not an exception for being particularly tough for female fund managers. I think it is the same in Europe, in general. It is possible for females to come to the fore, but sometimes it is easier for men. By easier, I mean they often get to higher positions faster.

That is the same for many industries, not only finance. That is a wider societal challenge, as men’s clubs, or ‘old boys’ clubs’, are continually reticent to at accept women. This can create lots of frustration and tensions for women, whatever the industry.

It is fair to say that the male ego is easily hurt by female fund managers’ successes, if they achieve good or better performance, and also their soft skills. Men can often be fragile and emotional when it comes to women in that regard.

Frankly, this happens, but it is of course not very professional. What I have seen, and continue to see from my vantage point outside of fund management, is that, most often, men will occupy positions on the big funds and women will be given smaller strategies. Now, speaking as a woman, I think this means that many talented women stay in shadows.

With regards to representation and how much has changed, I observe that asset managers are under pressure from their clients to hire more women and to show the diversity. I hear more and more from colleagues and friends that there is a big internal push that goes along the lines of: ‘we need a woman in a team’, or ‘great that you are a woman’.

Unfortunately it means asset managers are forced, rather than choose, to focus on attracting women into the industry. There are exceptions of course, and some companies are doing a great job, but it is a huge problem.

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