Our review has demonstrated the lack of a sustainable model to grow and to nurture women’s talent in fund management. 27four Women, a women-managed accelerator for women fund managers, seeks to turn this vicious cycle into a virtuous cycle by making available more women-run funds for investors to consider and to assist investors in overcoming their ‘conscious or unconscious’ biases.
Empirical evidence demonstrates that it may take almost 200 years to reach gender parity in fund management. It is estimated that a meagre 0.5% of global assets under management are managed by women and just one in nine fund managers are women. It has also been demonstrated that women managed funds perform about the same as men-only funds and that women managed funds in many cases deliver better risk-adjusted returns. Yet asset inflows to women managed funds have been dismally low. An overwhelming amount of evidence points to investor ‘conscious or unconscious’ biases. In the South African Financial and Insurance sector, only 12% of black women have advanced to top management. Our research underscores two primary challenges; 1) the lack of a sustainable model to grow a pipeline of women fund management talent and 2) overcoming investor biases relating to gender and race.
27four, as pioneers of black asset manager incubation in South Africa, through multiple interventions, created a platform for change. We have made a significant contribution to that change by furthering the participation of black talent and black business in the South African savings and investments industry. Our work is not done. We recognise that we cannot rely on the current pathway, which may take 200 years to reach gender parity in asset management. We are therefore thrilled to launch 27four Women, an accelerator managed by women for women, as only women can understand what it takes to get a seat at the table. 27four Women will focus on accelerating the trajectory for achieving both transformation and gender parity goals in South African asset management. The women-led accelerator will provide qualifying women fund managers with access to assets under management, and operational and compliance infrastructure to allow the managers to build track record and develop skills around industry best practice and capacity building. Investors will now have access to more women managed funds to consider and, in doing so, remove any conscious or unconscious biases thereby promoting a virtuous cycle. The accelerator will also serve as a pipeline to grow women fund management talent by creating entry opportunities in established asset management firms.
“My pathway to getting a seat at the table was incredibly difficult, so when I established 27four, I made sure that all the leadership positions in the business were held by women. Only women understand what it means to open the door for other women. We are therefore excited about our commitment to playing a role in closing the inequity gap in asset management and in contributing to the 2030 SDG goals. After all, an economy that works for women works for all”, says Fatima Vawda, founder of the 27four Group.
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