City’s top executives to mentor Black investment managers

diversity

A mentoring programme has been launched to address the “striking absence” of senior Black professionals at all levels in investment management, by bringing together experienced Black managers with chief executives and chief investment officers from across the industry.

Among the mentors are top-level executives from firms including BlackRock, State Street Global Advisors, Fidelity International, Schroders, JP Morgan AM, and AXA Investment Managers. 

The scheme aims to give senior Black professionals the opportunity to develop, thrive and progress into senior executive roles.

At the same time, it provides reverse mentoring to current executive leaders by giving them insight into the lived experiences of Black people in the industry.

The pilot scheme will run for “at least one year” but will continue if the programme is successful, according to joint creators, Investment20/20, the talent branch of Investment Association, and #talkaboutblack, which is part of the Diversity Project.

Sixteen Black professionals with typically 15 years’ or more experience in the industry, along with 16 c-suite industry leaders from different investment management companies, have been selected to participate in the programme.

Karis Stander, managing director of Investment20/20, says: “The absence of Black representation within our industry’s senior leadership is striking, and so deliberate and meaningful action needs to be taken to address this imbalance. We simply cannot serve our diverse society effectively if our senior leadership teams don’t reflect the people we serve.”

In 2018, a study by New Financial found there were 12 Black portfolio managers in the entire UK investment management industry. A year later, another study by the Investment Association found that fewer than 1 per cent of investment managers were Black in 2019.

“That is why today I am proud to launch our cross-industry Black leaders mentoring and reverse mentoring programme alongside #talkaboutblack. From our industry’s executive leaders, the cross transfer of skills, knowledge and experience will help provide a catalyst for senior Black professionals to progress to the very top,” adds Stander.

As part of the scheme, both parties will organise regular sessions every eight weeks, and attend an annual networking event with other leaders on the programme to further establish cross-industry networks.

Executives from Artemis, Brooks MacDonald, Alcentra, Jupiter AM, Eaton Vance, HSBC GAM, Legal & General Investment Management, Standard Life Aberdeen, and BMO GAM are also among the mentors.

On behalf of #talkaboutblack, Justin Onuekwusi, head of Retail Multi-Asset Funds at Legal & General Investment Management, adds: “The dearth of ethnic minority representation at the c-suite level within the investment industry is sadly all too well known. This becomes even more stark when looking at Black people. There are a handful of Black leaders in the industry, all of whom are very talented. However, unless we see any form of progress to the senior executive level, we risk a lost generation of potential candidates.

“It is time for the investment industry to put allegiances to one side, and stand together to solve this challenge. Under-representation goes well beyond company loyalties. The investment industry is built on creating solutions to problems. We must come together as one to solve this.”

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