Mercer unites key industry players to attract diverse talent in investment management

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Key players in the investment management industry have joined forces to launch Future IM/Pact – an employee value proposition aimed at attracting more diverse talent into investing roles with an initial focus on women.

Launched at an event in Sydney yesterday, Future IM/Pact is a collaboration between Mercer and project partners from across the industry, including AustralianSuper, Cbus Super, Future Fund, HESTA, Magellan, Mercer, NAB Asset Management, Pendal, QIC and Wavestone.

The centerpiece of the project is a website that aims to help university students from all backgrounds and walks of life to understand how they can impact the world as an investment manager, how to start their investing career, and provide specific opportunities to gain exposure to the industry.  Students will also gain access to mentoring projects, networking events, internships and graduate programs through the project partners.

Mercer’s Learning & Inclusion Practice Leader, Yolanda Beattie, said a growing number of industry leaders recognise their ability to build high performing teams depends on attracting and valuing diverse talent, but the majority of teams remain very Anglo-Celtic and male dominated.

“When Mercer started looking into this issue in 2016, CEOs would lament to me how hard it was to attract a diverse candidate slate for investing roles, particularly with respect to women. This initiative aims to change that status quo by taking the long view and building our future talent pipeline from the ground up,” she said

The initiative follows research conducted by Mercer in 2016 which found female finance students were almost 50% less likely than their male counterparts to consider a career in investment management. Not knowing enough about a career in investment management, and a sense they wouldn’t fit in were among the top reasons cited.

Because women are the largest underrepresented cohort in the industry, targeting efforts will initially focus on females. Diversity of thought is the ultimate endgame and so reaching students from different cultural, socioeconomic and educational backgrounds will become a priority over time.

Beattie said achieving diverse, high performing teams also required industry leaders to address the cultural issues that contribute to women feeling less valued and included.

“Through the support of our partners, we have the opportunity and the tools in place to make a real difference. We welcome the support of companies who want to be part of this movement to help shape and grow the talent pool of the future, while opening up new and exciting career opportunities for a broader range of students.

“Ultimately, we want to help organisations and industry leaders drive positive change, while ensuring their workforce thrives,” said Beattie.

Mercer’s 2016 research also found that:

  • Three quarters (76%) of investment managers are male, and almost half (48%) are private school educated;
  • Female investment managers are up to 30% less likely to be promoted through the ranks and are up to 50% more likely to leave than men;
  • 77% of Anglo-Celtic male investment managers feel their manager supports their career ambitions compared to 59% of female investment managers;
  • Flexible working is perceived as a career handbrake with 78% of women agreeing that this explains poor diversity.

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