Women’s career opportunities in the investment management world


Investment management is one of those sectors of industry which, despite efforts to change it, has stubbornly remained dominated by men.

In the US, 20% of law firm partners and members of congress are female and 25% of engineering, technology and science jobs are taken by women yet they account for just 10% of those working in the field of asset management. In the UK KPMG’s annual Financial Reporting by Investment Managers report found just 4% of executive directors were female in 2014 and only 15% of board members.

However, as external pressure for change grows, women graduates continue to outnumber their male counterparts and the sector itself seeks ways to recruit and retain more women, it seems things may be beginning to change..

Something well worth bearing in mind is that a career in investment management is not just available to the newly graduated, although this is still the generally accepted route into the industry. However, it is possible for people of any age to study and qualify. Technology is also making courses more accessible so that people with caring responsibilities can fit them around family life. One of the most widely recognised qualifications, the Investment Manager Certificate (IMC), is offered online by a number of colleges and business schools and those who have successfully completed the course can go on to seek employment as an investment analyst. What’s more, as this is an entry-level course there are no pre-requisites, making it open to all.

For those preferring to learn about the subject in more detail there are a whole collection of books which can be perused at home. These range from the Financial Times’ Guide to Investing, which is a practical introduction to the subject to more in-depth sector by sector tips. US investment management company Fisher Investments publishes a series of guides to investing aimed at new and seasoned investors which are specific to particular sectors. Fisher Investments on Energy, for instance, provides a comprehensive introduction to the hot topic of investing in both traditional and renewable sources of energy, the pitfalls to avoid and practical tips on the best tactics to employ.

Investment analysts, as the name suggests, focus on carrying out detailed analysis of individual companies, specific sectors of industry or even entire countries. They are also involved in meeting clients, suggesting ideas for portfolios and writing reports on stocks and shares. The next step up the ladder is to qualify as a chartered financial analyst (CFA). The IMC syllabus covers around 30% of the CFA Level 1 course so those who have come in via the IMC route will already be fairly well prepared for taking that next step. As practical experience is gained CFAs are likely to find themselves paying visits to the companies they are researching and working alongside experienced investment managers.

The role of the investment manager involves taking the information provided by analysts and using it as a basis for putting together a portfolio customised to meet the specific requirements of their clients. The secret of a successful investment manager lies in their ability to take a wide-ranging view of the various options available and then construct a balanced portfolio. Most managers tend to work alongside their analysts for at least a period of time in order to stay abreast of current market conditions.

Some women may be put off by the perception that investment management is a male-dominated industry, but the barriers are coming down and it is surely only a matter of time before that balance is redressed.

*Aimee Wilson is a writer specialising in business and employment.

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