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Diverse Talent in Asia's Fund and Asset Management Firms: A Path to Change

Posted on March 2024 By Selby Jennings

Diversity Hiring in Asia's Fund and Asset Management Firms: A Path to Change

by Jessica Grange - Associate Vice President - Investment Management at Selby Jennings

In the fast-paced world of finance and asset management, the need for diversity in the workplace has never been more crucial. According to McKinsey's research, it reveals that the global GDP could increase by $12 to $28 trillion by 2025 if all countries elevate gender equality in the workplace. In the heart of Asia, where these sectors thrive, it's essential to examine the evolving landscape of diversity hiring, the challenges faced by female executives, and the industry's commitment to fostering change. 

Gender Imbalance and Turnover

The finance industry has long struggled with gender imbalance. A recent Alpha Female report by Citywire revealed that female fund managers have a higher turnover rate than their male counterparts, with 42% compared to 28%. It's a misconception to think that women are more inclined to look for new opportunities. In many cases, it's the opposite - they tend to be more cautious, only applying when they are confident in meeting most qualifications.

Consider the story of a female Portfolio Manager that I have worked with, who initially recommended her boss for a senior PM role but eventually landed the job herself. It's an example that highlights the presence of doubt among female executives. 

The "Merry-Go-Round" of Female Managers

One common perception is that female managers frequently move from one firm to another. However, this can be attributed to the rising demand for female talent in senior and management positions. Women are still significantly underrepresented in the industry, with just 12.1% of Portfolio Managers being female. It's not about women seeking change more frequently; it's about recognizing the need for diversity.

The McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2022report found that companies with over 30% female executives were more likely to outperform others, and asset management firms are starting to recognize that diversity can yield returns.  

Challenges Affecting Women Executives' Stay

It’s important to note that many women aren’t leaving the workforce, but are increasingly seeking better opportunities within asset management firms. Unequal pay, limited advancement opportunities, work-life balance, flexibility, and the historically male-dominated industry all play a role. For instance, there is some evidence that women are less likely to be promoted compared to their male counterparts, and needing to outperform or hit a higher threshold, hence limited advancement opportunities can lead to women considering external opportunities.

In a recent Selby Jennings’ survey, only 43% of female financial services professionals in APAC felt that their current employer offered equal professional growth and development opportunities, compared to 54% of males. This highlights the importance of establishing unbiased metrics that solely measure career growth. 

Will Women Get Top Positions? 

While the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles is evident in finance functions, the asset management industry has taken steps towards addressing this issue. Research shows that women are 16 percent more likely than men to get hired after applying for a job, particularly for more senior positions. Companies are seeking gender-balanced shortlists and prioritizing diversity in recruitment, recognizing that capability is not confined by gender.

Having women in senior roles is particularly important for companies looking to improve their gender imbalance. Selby Jennings recently found that 93% of female financial services professionals in APAC felt it was important for leadership to reflect the diversity of the workforce, highlighting that companies with visible role models are more likely to attract even more diverse talent. 

Retaining Female Talent

The asset management industry is focusing on attracting and retaining more female executives. Efforts to bridge the gender pay gap, increase internal promotions, and hire more junior female talent are underway. However, it's essential to recognize that change in a historically male-dominated sector takes time.

Organizations like The Investment Diversity Exchange (TIDE) are partnering with fund management firms, advocating for diversity in the workforce. Their goal is to cultivate a diverse talent pipeline and transform the investment industry.  

In conclusion, Asia's fund and asset management firms are realizing the value of diverse teams. The industry is taking steps to address gender imbalance, encourage women to stay, and create opportunities for talented individuals regardless of gender, colour, or race. This evolution towards a more inclusive workplace is not only a change in numbers but a shift in mindset, embracing a multitude of perspectives for a brighter and more prosperous future. If you would like to receive practical hiring tips to help you build a diverse workforce, request a call back and our specialist consultants will get in touch with you.


About Jessica Grange

Jessica Grange is the Associate Vice President of Investment Management at Selby Jennings. With a profound understanding of investment and fund management, she focuses on recruiting for the APAC region's buy-side investments sector. Leveraging her bilingual expertise and extensive experience, Jessica has fostered strong partnerships with diverse investment firms across multiple asset classes. Her specialties encompass Private Equity & Venture Capital, Private Debt/Credit, Alternative Investments, and Impact Investments & ESG. Jessica's commitment to exceptional service and her unique insight into the global financial landscape make her a crucial asset in connecting top talent with financial organizations.

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Financial Sciences & Services Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Insights

As an award-winning financial sciences & services talent partner under the Phaidon International brand, clients often ask us how to improve Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) in their workplace so they can attract, hire, and retain top talent with diverse experiences and viewpoints.  

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