UK investment managers to welcome ‘100 Black interns’ next summer

Cultural change

Many of the UK’s largest fund managers are backing an initiative to offer paid internships to Black university students next year, as the investment industry grapples with a chronic lack of racial diversity among its employees.

Legal & General, Schroders, Capstone, M&G, Goldman Sachs, Fidelity, Standard Life Aberdeen, Man and Willis Towers Watson are among the 80 names that have so far signed up to the scheme, known as #100blackinterns. 

Participating firms include long-only and hedge funds, private equity, credit and real estate managers, together with consultants and pension funds, and the programme is expecting more sign-ups in the next few weeks.

According to a 2018 study by New Financial, there are only 12 Black portfolio managers in the entire UK investment management industry. The initiative hopes the scheme will lead to a “measurable increase” in the number of Black portfolio managers in the long-term. 

The Investment Association found in a separate study that fewer than 1 per cent of investment managers were Black in 2019.

“In over two decades in the City, I have rarely come across anyone who looks like me,” says Dawid Konotey-Ahulu, one of the initiative’s coordinators, and co-founder of pensions advisory group Redington and online pensions forum Mallowstreet.

“It is so powerful that the investment management industry has agreed to help welcome more Black talent into our industry. We hope other professions will follow suit and have an impact on the representation of Black talent in their own industries.”

Another of the co-ordinators, Jonathan Sorrell, president of Capstone Investment Advisors, says: “We felt we wanted to do something really tangible to build a bench of compelling Black talent in our industry for the long-term. By providing such a special entry point into portfolio management, we hope to attract great Black students to a career path they may not have otherwise contemplated.” 

Michael Barrington-Hibbert, founder and managing partner of Barrington Hibbert Associates, adds: “We want as many applications as possible from Black university students – those at University, about to start or graduated since 2019 – from any academic discipline, who might be interested in a career managing investments. This is a really unique opportunity to gain exposure to the role at one of the world’s leading firms.” 

Wol Kolade, managing partner of Livingbridge, says: “The support for this initiative from the industry has been absolutely terrific. If there are other firms we have not yet contacted that would like to provide an internship, they would be very welcome to join the programme.”

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