6 January 2021
Sophie’s thoughts on where we have got to and where we need to go
- Previously there was never any talk about diversity, ethnic and gender imbalance. It’s now become the big conversation as it rightly should; different institutions embracing it in different ways.
- There are many firms still talking the talk but not walking the walk – it’s all very well saying it but you need to follow it through.
Initiatives to help broaden the industry
- Returner programmes – so that graduate intake is not the only way to get in.
- After kids many women took breaks from their professional careers but returner programmes enable them to reuse their knowledge when returning to the career ladder.
- Typically it has been women who stopped to have kids, but ultimately a returner programme should apply to any individual who’s taken a career break for any given reason.
- Sophie’s returner experience won her a Women in Investment award: she moved from fund management to investment consulting, with a career break of 11 years in between. She then used the experience to drive forward LCP’s Women’s Talent Academy.
Women’s Talent Academy – recognising gender imbalance in the investment industry
- A key part of it is to create relatable role models. The role of the mentor and role model is so vital to getting new talent.
- We pair each undergraduate with mentors (Professional females working at LCP), to guide their transition from student to professional women.
- A 'Day in the Life' event – centres around the people focussed role rather than just the technical side.
- It also includes tips for building confidence in meetings. Interestingly many of the students state this as a key area to improve upon when they join the Academy.
- This year we had 120 applicants, it’s encouraging to see each year gaining more momentum.
Sophie’s tips for returning to the investment industry
- Returning can be a challenge, but speaking to other people who have gone through the journey can shed some light on what to expect. It was a huge adjustment environmentally and technologically for Sophie after 11 years out of the business but being open to people about what you do and don't know helps.
- We need the system to exist and then to develop the system.
- Aim is to avoid tokenism – you don’t want to just take 1 returner per year to meet the number but rather the returner programme needs to be just as good as a graduate programme.
- For some companies it is just a HR driven initiative, often more akin to extended internship, but at LCP there's a job at the end of it. This appealed to Sophie when considering her options.
- If you’re a returner thinking about returning to work after a career break, make sure you understand what a returner programme actually involves as they are different to each other.
Investor vs advisor from someone who’s worked on both sides
A lot of overlaps of knowledge, but the application is different:
- Fund manager – is focussed on the performance of the fund and the individuals running money;
- Advisory - the client is at the forefront of thinking. Potentially more collegiate.
Tips for investors
- The other side of the table needs to be clearer and user friendly. Fund managers need to think about the audience of their report just as we need to on the advisory side.
The importance of retention
- Once recruited you need to ensure that people want to stay. Previously women potentially wanted more flexibility than men / than was offered, but the world has now moved on.
- Lockdown may help this as all organisations have had to enable all their employees to work from home and employees are learning how to be stricter on themselves to switch off when not working.
One thing to takeaway
You need whole organisations buying into returner programmes, not just the HR department.
Most under appreciated thing about investing
Time is your friend – if you’re in the fortunate position to ride it through and sit tight then that is often the best option.
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