Firms failing to embrace diversity risk ‘losing out’ as research reveals scale of issue


It is no secret that the UK finance and asset management industry has suffered an image problem that contravenes it’s declaration to be more ‘diverse’. An array of statistics have highlighted the issues, from only 6% of CEOs in the UK’s financial services sector being women to more than half of all FTSE 100 company boards having no ethnic minorities on their board.

And whilst it would be unfair to define financial markets as an industry where an investment portfolio is, at times, more diversified than the team or firm managing it, Incisive Works, the commercial content arm of Investment Week’s owners Incisive Media, detailed research report released today investigating the state of diversity within the asset management sector in 2019 echoes this sentiment.

Drawing on interviews with over 230 financial intermediaries and leading asset managers from across the industry, the group’s Diversity in Asset Management report provides an interesting statistical analysis of the current make-up of the asset management sector. In addition, it explores why the industry needs to build a business case for diversity in order to allow groups to take advantage of the strategic opportunities offered in terms of employee commitment and business profits over the longer term.

The research highlights not just where the industry stands statistically on diversity today, but also the range of differing attitudes towards the subject based on respondents gender, age and geography among other factors.

A positive outlook

Presenting an unbiased view on the issue of diversity within the asset management industry, the report highlights why – in-spite of some stark figures – the subject continues to gain real traction. A number of case studies and interviews with high-level industry personnel offer viewpoints on the initiatives and thought-processes groups such as HSBC GAM, Fidelity, LGIM, BlackRock, Polar Capital, Courtiers and others are embracing in order to be more diverse employers.

Importantly the report highlights improving diversity at a group level is finally being seen as an increasingly important issue among intermediaries. A majority of respondents surveyed feel the need to embrace diversity as a business objective today, with 60% of respondents viewing the improvement of workplace diversity within their firm as either ‘important’ or ‘very important’. Though it falls behind other priorities such as attracting new clients, it is evidence of the fact financial intermediaries want to instil change and efforts to improve workplace diversity.

It also holds a warning for financial groups, who must understand that with changing demographics and generational shifts already in place, those firms that do not get involved in moving this initiative forward could find themselves left behind: “Firms that do embrace diversity are helping to futureproof themselves by making themselves more relevant and more culturally attuned to the clients of tomorrow, not to mention future employees. But equally, those firms which fail to embrace diversity could lose out,” the report notes.

You can gain full access to the report for free here: Diversity in Asset Management