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To celebrate Women’s History Month, I challenged myself to focus my spare time on women’s achievements. I read books by female authors on topics such as feminism, money, beauty expectations and relationships. My evening TV was a show about millennial feminists, and I even opted for Women’s History Month themed classes on the Peloton. The last 30 days have been filled with nothing but females. It’s been eye opening and started a lot of conversations with friends. To close out Women’s History Month I’m putting the spotlight on all the incredible things women have achieved when it comes to money.
“I don’t believe you can be a feminist and not care about money. You cannot be in favour of gender equality and overlook the foundation from which inequality grows: money.” — Annabelle Williams, author of ‘Why Women are poorer than men and what we can do about it’
Not too long ago, women were forced to be financially dependent on the men in their lives. Until the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975, it was still legal for banks to refuse women mortgages without a male guarantor.
And one question on an entrance exam paper for a trainee programme at Merrill Lynch in 1972 read: “When you meet a woman, what interests you most about her?” The correct answer was beauty. Low scores were given for those who answered intelligence.
While women were welcomed as members of the London Stock Exchange for the first time the following year, it still wasn’t until 2001, when Clara Furse was appointed the first female CEO of LSE, that a woman held a senior position.
Unfortunately, there is still a gender bias in finance. While Janet Yellen is the exception to the rule having held all of the top three economic posts in the US (head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the first woman to serve as chair of the Federal Reserve and the first woman US Treasury secretary), only one of the Bank of England’s nine-member monetary policy committee is female.
Less than 10% of CEOs on the Fortune 500 list are women too. 40 to be exact – and that’s a record high**. Rosalind Brewer recently went from COO of Starbucks to CEO of Walgreens and is the only Black women heading a Fortune 500 company.
It’s even worse here in the UK. In 2020, only 5% of FTSE 100 CEOs are women^. The FTSE 250 is even further behind, with just 2%^.
There is some good news though: the number of female directors at FTSE-100 firms has increased by 50% in the last five years^^ and women now hold more than a third of roles in the boardrooms of Britain’s top 350 companies^^.
Sallie Krawcheck has been called the most powerful woman on Wall Street. The former CEO of Smith Barney, CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, CFO of Citigroup and the co-founder of Ellevest, a financial company for women, said in an interview back in 2019: “we women are half of the workforce, we direct 85% of consumer spending, we control $7 trillion of investable assets, but somehow we got convinced that we needed the men to “empower us.”
15%^^^ of funds on FundCalibre are run, or co-managed, by female managers. And when looking through the data I noticed some pockets of focus. For example, they run 38%^^^ of our responsible investment funds and 27%^^^ manage Asian equities.
Lesley Duncan has run ASI UK Ethical Equity fund since 2004 and is Aberdeen Standard Investment’s housing sector specialist, contributing ideas and analysis for the wider team. Lesley has a BA (Hons) in Business Economics and Finance and an MPhil in International Finance.
Ainslie McLennan has been co-manager on the Janus Henderson UK Property fund for over 10 years and has more than 20 years of property industry expertise. She’s also Head of UK Balanced Funds, a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and holds a bachelor of land economy degree (Hons) from Aberdeen University.
JPM US Equity Income lead manager Clare Hart started her career as a public accountant and has a BA in Political Science from the University of Chicago and an MSA from DePaul University. She’s been running the US Equity Income fund since its launch in 2008 and is a managing director at J.P. Morgan.
Sue Noffke, Head of UK Equities has been a fund manager at Schroder’s since 1993 and managed Schroder Income Growth since July 2011. She’s a founding member of the Prime UK Equity team established in 2006 and holds a degree in Business Administration and Biochemistry from Aston University.
Claudia Calich has run the M&G Emerging Markets Bond fund since 2013 and has more than 20 years of experience in emerging markets. Claudia graduated with a BA (Honours) in Economics from Susquehanna University and holds an MA in International Economics from the International University of Japan.
There’s still a long way to financial equity. But getting to know the revolutionary women making money history today and the women running money every day can help you see how far we’ve already come and what still needs to be done to keep us moving forward. It’s up to us to keep paving the way for future generations. That means taking control of your finances, forging ahead on your own career path, and doing your small part to help close the gender pay gap.
*Source: BBC World Service
**Source: Fortune 500, March 2021
^Source: IG, 18 March 2020
^^Source: BoardEx, January 2021
^^^Source: FundCalibre as at 29 March 2021