Bank of America promotes investment manager diversity

Bank of America is to evaluate asset managers who work with its clients for their policies and practices around diversity and inclusion.

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Bank of America is to incorporate diversity analysis into the review and selection of all existing and new asset managers who are available to Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank clients.

In the first quarter of this year, the bank’s Chief Investment Office Due Diligence team began the process of evaluating all asset managers’ policies and practices on diversity and inclusion at both their organisational and investment team levels. The bank says this analysis will be used in the CIO team’s overall investment assessments and factor into their level of conviction in investment strategies.

The team will also collaborate with asset managers and industry groups who are focused on developing investment solutions that serve to promote and financially support diverse managers and businesses owned by women and ethnic minorities.

“We are deeply committed to advancing the social and economic benefits of greater diversity and inclusion,” said Keith Banks, head of the Investment Solutions Group at Bank of America. “We hope these important steps forward will further encourage the asset management industry to accelerate its support of diverse-owned firms, portfolio managers and investment solutions.”

“Multiple studies link diverse and inclusive organisations to stronger organisational performance,” said Anna Snider, head of due diligence for Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank. “We recognised the need to embed a diversity and inclusion assessment into the core of our due diligence process. We believe that this, along with other environmental, social and governance considerations, can and should inform investment conviction and play an increasingly important role in our selection of managers and strategies going forward.”

In addition to these efforts, the CIO will actively participate in several industry initiatives, which include sponsoring the 2020 Global GenderSmart Investing Summit, a global initiative dedicated to unlocking capital at scale, with a focus on gender equality, the climate crisis, education, health and human rights, and the NICSA Diversity Project, which is designed to share research and best practices for building a more diverse roster of next-generation asset managers.

Bank of America and the Visa Foundation are also sponsoring Project Sage 3.0 which studies women-led, gender- and diversity-focused fund mandates and it recently announced a $1 billion, four-year initiative to help advance racial equality and economic opportunity.

Meanwhile, recent analysis by Business in the Community suggests that many UK businesses may be missing out on home-grown talent at managerial level by not encouraging their black employees to take up senior positions. The Race at Work: The Black Voices Report polled workers and found that 74% of black employees are keen to progress in their careers compared to 42% of white employees, but a third of black staff feel their ethnicity will be a barrier to their next career move.

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