Women in the investment management industry

By India Harkishin

Research suggests that the asset management and institutional investment industries are more inclusive for women today, but there is still a lot more progress to be made. This blog post explores the current trends of female representation in the industry, possible theories which uphold these trends and what current legislation is doing to help.

Whilst research has found that the asset management and institutional investment industries are more inclusive for women than ever before, there is still a problem with the number of women in senior roles.[1]  Recently, at the company’s annual AGM, the female CEO of Aviva, Amanda Blanc, received a number of sexist and derogatory comments from shareholders of the multinational insurance company. Investors said that Blanc was “not the man for the job” and should be “wearing trousers”.[2] As shocking as these comments were, sadly it is just another illustration of how far off the mark the industry is to reaching gender equality.


In the UK, women represent just 8% of decision makers within investment management.[3] According to research published in Investment Week, at the end of September 2000, only 14% of fund managers were female. This figure dropped in 2018 to 9.8%, and has only slightly risen in recent years to 11.2% in 2020. [4] Whilst there is a clear underrepresentation of females in senior roles within the industry, the reverse is true in more junior administrative roles. In these roles, women outnumber men, holding almost 60% of these jobs. [5]


Chart showing percentage of women running active and passive funds globally

Image Source

The numbers speak for themselves, but why is this? One obvious explanation is due to very few women in senior leadership positions: with fewer female role models in the industry, this may deter females to aspire to take up a career in the industry in the first place, ultimately reinforcing the lack of female representation. Another reason comes down to workplace culture: some women working in financial services have reported experiencing everyday prejudice, bullying, deliberate embarrassment, lower pay and even assault.[6] Unfortunately, a lot of this behaviour often goes unreported. Many women find that calling out  unacceptable behaviour risks intimidation, and negative repercussions. Research from Girls Are INvestors (GAIN) has found that only 20% of applicants to the entry level roles within the investment management industry come from women. [7] So ultimately, we have less women applying for these roles in the first place.  



Asides from the fact that everyone, no matter their gender, should have equal opportunities in or outside of the workplace, research has proven that mixed gender investment teams generate better results. Citywire’s research in to this topic has found that over the past three years, in relation to the percentage of total return generated per unit of risk, mixed teams come out with higher returns than single sex teams.[8] When looking at the global make up of investors, males tend to invest a lot more than females.  A new research report from BrokerChoos has found that there is a global split of 76% male investors to 24% female investors[9], but with female investors slowly but steadily on the rise. It is likely that the rise of female investors will bring with it greater demands for gender parity within  the industry, particularly in the media continues to shine a light of the extent of inequality within the sector at present.


It is argued that the best way to make change happen is through legislation. Goal 5 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. It is important for companies and institutions to adhere to the UNs SDG’s for a number of reasons, to increase growth and capital, to minimise risk and to create more focus on purpose. In addition to this, the UK Corporate Governance code highlights the importance of promoting gender diversity as well as social and ethnic backgrounds in the composition of a company’s board. The aim of this is to alleviate the chance of ‘groupthink’ occurring. This relates to the idea that a lack of diversity on boards can lead individuals striving for consensus rather than challenging ideas. Whilst legislation is addressing the issue, it still seems that a lot more can be done to increase the statistics of women in the industry.


Gender diversity is an issue in society as a whole and in a plethora of different occupational industries. Although we have seen that some attempts at change have been made in the investment industry as a whole, we still have a long way to go.

As we touched on previously, within the UK, women represent just 8% of decision makers within investment management. As of 30th September 2020, Castlefield reached their target of maintaining 50% female representation in senior management roles.[10] Although we’re not perfect when it comes to gender diversity, we think we’re doing a pretty good job at creating a diverse and inclusive environment. Our report: Diversity and Inclusion at Castlefield, found that in the last year, nearly 80% of internal promotions were of female co-owners, across all levels of the business. Although women typically join Castlefield at lower paid levels, we are committed to the development of that talent, as reflected in the data on promotions. And we are proud that we found that both women and men earn exactly the same when comparing median calculations of all performance related bonus pay.

HM Treasury has created a pledge called the Women in Finance Charter, which focusses on creating gender balance across financial services. We at Castlefield are signatories to it and we have met our target of having 50% of managerial roles filled by women.

Whilst gender diversity in the industry at whole is still an issue, we are taking the right steps to improve things and we encourage and invest in companies that are committed to these values.

Written by India Harkishin


[1] Women in institutional investment and management - Investment Monitor

[2] ‘Unacceptable’: Aviva CEO hits back at shareholder sexism | Inequality | The Guardian

[3] Who are we? - Girls Are INvestors (gainuk.org)

[4] Proportion of female managers falls to 11.2% (investmentweek.co.uk)

[5] How can we encourage more women into senior finance roles? (wearethecity.com)

[6] Sexism in banking? It's happening, and it's complicated | Anonymous | The Guardian

[7] Who are we? - Girls Are INvestors (gainuk.org)

[8] Alpha-Female-2018.pdf (citywire.co.uk)

[9] The UK has the joint 8th lowest proportion of female investors – The Motley Fool UK

[10] Diversity at Castlefield


Image Source: Adobe stock images - Jacob Lund


All information quoted is obtained from sources which we believe to be accurate at the time of publication, but may be subject to change. We therefore cannot be held responsible for the implications of relying on this information.