As we celebrated International Women’s Day the 8th of March, we are here to talk about the Female Approach in the Asset Management industry. Two excellent investment professionals are going to share their views about the topic: Anne Tolmunen, Portfolio Manager of the AXA WF Framlington Women Empowerment fund and Junwei Hafner-Cai, Portfolio Manager of the RobecoSAM Global Gender Equality Impact Equities fund.
AXA WF Framlington Women Empowerment fund
Anne Tolmunen, manager of the Axa WF Framlington Women Empowerment fund will talk us about the female approach in the asset management industry. Anne spent the last 13 years at AXA Investment Managers and she ha been a portfolio manager since 2009. She is the Lead Portfolio Manager on the Women Empowerment Fund – Investing behind Gender Diversity, Co – Portfolio Manager on the Global Talents Fund – Investing behind Entrepreneurs and also a Global Consumer Equities Analyst. She is also a CFA charterholder.
At AXA Investment Managers, we are not standing still. Our ambition is to become a leading responsible investor in the asset management industry when it comes to diversity and inclusion. The AXA WF Framlington Women Empowerment fund is one of the first truly global and actively-managed listed impact funds that seek to have a positive impact on one of our largest global societal issues, gender diversity, whilst simultaneously driving long-term financial performance.
We aim to invest across both developed and emerging markets to offer investors access to the increasingly expanding universe of companies leading the global development of corporate gender diversity practices while investing only in the better-run businesses demonstrating those progressive diversity values.
The fund employs gender diversity as a non-financial measurement indicator to enhance the quality of the stock selection process. Put simply, gender lens investing can help investors deliver higher and more sustainable performance than traditional investment approaches. Research shows that companies with more gender diversity at senior level are better managed, less likely to take on excessive risk, less prone to group-think and display greater innovation than companies with all-male senior leadership teams.
In terms of product offering – we are one of the first investment managers to provide an actively managed and truly global portfolio of companies with good gender diversity practices. By investing in a concentrated portfolio of 45 – 55 stocks, we are able to maintain an ongoing dialogue with companies and actively engage with company management. This helps to analyze corporate cultures and companies’ long-term diversity agenda in greater detail rather than relying solely on the information provided by diversity indices.
Investing in companies that have the highest ranking in promoting and fostering gender diversity is, for us, a way to assess the strength of a business’ foundations and highlights the critical role gender diversity plays in business success over time.
RobecoSAM Global Gender Equality Impact Equities fund.
We also interviewed Junwei Hafner-Cai, the Portfolio Manager of the RobecoSAM Global Gender Equality Impact Equities fund. Junwei works at RobeccoSAM as a Portfolio Manager since 2010. She is also Deputy PM for global SDG equities fund and previously managed the Global Children Impact Fund and was a lead Equity Analys for the Sustainable Water Fund.
It has always been our conviction that gender equality is an indication of a well-managed company that is fully utilizing its talent and human assets to make better decisions that lead to better results. Supporting this, is academic and industry research which shows a correlation between important company valuation metrics – such as profitability and/or lower volatility – and female representation at the board and management level. Thus, gender diversity is a business-strategic goal. Demonstrating the organizational benefits of a gender-mixed workforce is a 2016 Morgan Stanley study which found that companies with higher gender diversity delivered slightly higher return on earnings (ROE), had lower accruals and lower ROE volatility compared with their low diversity or sector peers. Gender research from McKinsey & Co in 2018 finds that the statistically significant correlation between a more diverse leadership team and financial outperformance demonstrated in their 2015 research continues to hold true. Yet, the most recent WEF Global Gender Pay Gap Report 2020 states that (only) ‘36% of firms have women in senior roles’, a diversity imbalance that is no longer viewed as acceptable corporate stewardship.
With so much upside in the advancement of gender equality, the RobecoSAM Global Gender Equality Impact Equities strategy was launched in 2015 with the aim of creating financial and social value by investing in gender diversity and equality leaders. Our proprietary Gender Equality Measurement Framework goes beyond compulsory board-level gender metrics to capture a more comprehensive structure of the workplace by analyzing a range of practices within the areas of corporate governance, board diversity, human capital development, and talent retention. This is used to generate a Gender Equality Score which supports investment decisions and enables RobecoSAM to offer asset owners impact measurement of the strategy at a portfolio level and reporting of the impact of their contributions towards SDG 5, Gender Equality.